Luis Suarez: An Impossible Decision

Is this goodbye? - Alex Livesey

What do Liverpool do with Suarez?

I figured it was best to hold off a bit and see how this played out initially. By now, if you haven't seen the incident you must be living under about 20 rocks. It has been everywhere. Yes, it is quite clear he bit Ivanovich in what can only be described as a fit of blood rage reserved for Hollywood movies, not actually real life. It seriously looked as if some evil spirit entered his body and told him to immediately and ravenously attack Ivanovich's arm. I can't explain it; he clearly belongs at the Anfield Asylum. Give Ivanovich credit though, he and Chelsea have reacted quite admirably to the whole situation.

Stevie, after the match went up to Suarez and appeared to ask him, "Did you bite him?"

http://medias.gifboom.com/medias/d49c20e65f694d65b326fc5a00bdfacb@2x.gif

Afterwards, Stevie's reaction says it all:

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I have heard plenty of criticism and plenty of praise for Liverpool's PR machine so far. Much of the criticism is that they are too out in front of this and it looks contrived and fake. My answer to that is, what the hell do you want them to do? Clearly they have learned their lesson from the Evra incident and won't be warming up in fake plastic vampire teeth. Suarez did apologize almost immediately as well, but many other cynics view this as less than contrite. Considering his subdued reaction following the match and goal, I'm not so sure about that. Liverpool have tried to stay ahead of the controversy, that's what PR is all about. Al least they aren't repeating their failures, but what do they do with him?

Liverpool have released a statement and Ian Ayre has cancelled his scheduled trip to Australia to deal with the incident; a point I have also heard criticized. Ian Ayre immediately opened up about the incident and where Liverpool would go from here with Suarez. In addition, Liverpool have confirmed they have fined Suarez, and it has come out that Suarez requested the money be donated to the Hillsborough Family Support Group. This action has also raised some skeptics eyebrows in that it might be a ploy to donate to a cause so near and dear to the club's heart in order to tug the fans back into at least tolerating Suarez's actions. No one knows, but one thing is for sure I don't know how I feel about him anymore. The only feeling I have any more is frustration.

Beyond the fact that this is just extremely bizarre behavior for anyone who has made it past four years of age, he has completely dragged Liverpool's name and reputation through the mud with his actions and his actions alone in his short time here. It could be argued the club did themselves no favors in the Evra incident (and that is almost not arguable, its as close to established fact as an opinion can get), but the whole incident again sprung from something stupid Suarez did. I'm not going to dive back in to the merits of the word "negrito" as an acceptable term. If you want to do this, you can read my summary of the FA's findings against Suarez. The fact remains he did use the term and should have known better. In the meantime, he allowed to club to back him fully and the club came out looking as if it willingly accepted racist remarks as being tolerable due to cultural differences.

Next there is the diving controversy in which he opened up about going down a bit easy from time to time. Now this is not to say he is much different than a number of players, all of whom go down far too easily. However, he has been branded a cheat and this is the last thing he needed to admit to. Again, the club's PR machine had to go into overdrive to play this down. Couple this weekend's bite with handshakegate and the handball against Mansfield Town (although I feel this is not a legitimate controversy) and we have a man who has put the club under immense pressure and turned Liverpool into the punchline of too many jokes.

So where do Liverpool go from here? The answer is, I haven't got a clue. This team is not equipped to survive without Suarez right now. For all the mud he has dragged us through, he is also one of the few reasons Liverpool are above midtable. I have a hard time seeing where 23 goals would come from if Suarez were to leave. Not being in the Champion's League yet again will make attracting anyone to this club that can come close to making up for that loss very tough. In addition, it will severely hurt Sturridge's play. He and Suarez have thrived off each other's movement off the ball. There are few players in the world who move so much without the ball and open up so much space. It will be nearly impossible to find a striker that can play that many games at that pace with that skill and not be injury prone. His fitness record, considering how much he plays for club and country, is remarkable.

No matter what, Liverpool have to stick by there man for now. Whether they intend to sell him or not is irrelevant, casting him aside now will completely devalue him on the open market. Surely this incident has lowered his stock, but if Liverpool stick by him it will at least make it seem as if they aren't desperate to offload him. The real question though is, will the fans stick by him if he stays? He has proven to have thick enough skin to endure opposing fan's abuse, but can he endure his own fan's abuse or displeasure? I'm not sure he can and certainly the club couldn't either, it is just another sad day for a very proud club.

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