Early Doors

Liverpool’s Suarez stance shames a great club

Early Doors

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Yesterday evening began with Liverpool announcing, in the most petulant manner imaginable, that they would not appeal Luis Suarez's eight-match ban.

There is not much ED has to say that it did not say after the initial 'guilty' verdict.

Liverpool's latest extraordinary rant against Patrice Evra and the FA brings more dishonour on one of this country's great football clubs.

Parts of Liverpool's argument have merit, and they are perfectly entitled to stand behind a player who has made a serious error of judgement but is not fundamentally racist.

However, their refusal to accept even the slightest wrongdoing on Suarez's part is extremely damaging, and it is hard to believe a club of Liverpool's stature could misjudge the situation so horribly.

Use of the word 'negro' with reference to somebody's skin colour is obviously unacceptable. The argument that it is commonly used in Uruguay has never carried any weight.

Suarez's conversation might have taken place in Spanish, but Evra is not Uruguayan. He is a Senegal-born Frenchman, and the exchange took place in England.

In life and sport, you have to observe the rules and cultural norms of whatever country you happen to be in. That isn't cultural arrogance. It's what happens.

If ED goes to Dubai and staggers, drunk and naked, along the beach, the argument that it could do the same thing in England without anyone minding very much is unlikely to cut much ice.

Liverpool and Suarez are essentially arguing that he (and any other Uruguayan player) should be allowed to continue directing the word 'negro' at black players, as long as they do it with a cheeky smile. Can they not see how insane this is?

All Liverpool needed to say was: "Luis's choice of words to Patrice Evra was unfortunate and wrong, and he has resolved to not use such language again on an English football pitch. He is not a racist and Liverpool FC stands behind him fully."

Once that is out of the way, they can make the following points of mitigation:

-Evra and the FA both accepted Suarez is not a racist.
-There are linguistic and cultural complexities relating to the word 'negro'.
-Evra is no angel, and himself directed some fairly uncompromising language at Suarez.

Without even the remotest acknowledgement that it's not OK to call people 'negro', Liverpool appear deluded and paranoid in equal measure.

Last night's TV and radio coverage kept throwing up the same words: "Liverpool need to move on."

Leave it, it's not worth it. Think of the children.

In other words, people have given up trying to make them see sense; they just want to drag them away from a situation that cannot possibly end well.

Liverpool FC are basically football's equivalent of a belligerent drunk in a bar confrontation. Sod reasonable debate, just bundle them in a taxi and get them out of there.

- - -

What followed later in the evening at the Etihad Stadium was arguably even more worrying for Kenny Dalglish, as his side were brushed aside by Manchester City.

Liverpool lie sixth in the Premier League and on current form look likely to stay there.

They have managed only 24 goals in 20 games - fewer than Blackburn, Norwich and Sunderland, and at least 12 fewer than any of the top five.

There is talk of 'progress' at Anfield, but this was not a side with a great deal wrong with it.

Only once in Rafa Benitez's six-season tenure did Liverpool fail to reach the Champions League, and the Spaniard was sacked for it.

Once the Reds had got the unhappy Roy Hodgson era out of their system, Early Doors expected them to kick on from last year's sixth-place finish.

Instead, they have been static.

Despite a summer of heavy spending, there appear to be few signs of improvement.

Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson are good players, but none has the elite quality to push Liverpool back into the title picture, and a combined £41m for the three looks very steep.

Most glaringly, the £35m gamble on Andy Carroll is failing badly. Liverpool have some good forwards, but none of Suarez, Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt is a true finisher.

Neither is Carroll, who has scored just four goals in 25 Premier League games for his new club.

More concerning, the size and strength that made him so feared at Newcastle now make him look like a clumsy anachronism.

One man's powerhouse striker is another's lumbering carthorse.

Liverpool hoped Carroll could be their Didier Drogba. But the Geordie lacks Drogba's pace, skill, and most crucially his determination to improve himself.

There is still time - Carroll is 22. Drogba was 25 before he emerged as a real force at Marseille.

But, for all his hissy fits, Drogba is a ferociously dedicated professional who toiled untiringly to make the most of his abilities.

Carroll does not seem to share that appetite for hard work. At a time when Liverpool need a goalscorer like never before, now might be the right time for Carroll to knuckle down.

- - -


Reporter: "Kenny, the wider world is pretty shocked that, if a player can call someone 'negro' and the player who is the victim in this takes offence, that there is no apology or contrition offered from your club."

Dalglish: "I would have thought that, if you pronounced the word properly, you maybe understand it better. I think it was Spanish he was speaking and I don't think you were speaking Spanish there."

Reporter: "OK, if a player calls someone 'negro' [Spanish pronunciation], surely the player who takes offence deserves an apology?"

Dalglish: "Ask a linguistic expert, which certainly I am not. They will tell you that the part of the country in Uruguay where he (Luis Suarez) comes from, it is perfectly acceptable. His wife calls him that and I don't think he is offended by her. We have made a statement and I think it is there for everybody to read. Luis has made a brilliant statement and we will stand by him."

Kenny Dalglish's post-match press conference last night.

Lots of things are acceptable in the remote village from which Early Doors hails, but it would dream of inflicting them on the wider world.

And is this really the time for Dalglish to be making sarky comebacks?

GOAL OF THE DAY: If Cristiano Ronaldo had scored Craig Gardner's free-kick for Sunderland last night, we would literally never hear the end of it.

To paraphrase an old sexist: What a hit, son.

FOREIGN VIEW: After revealing that David Beckham will not be joining the club, Paris Saint-Germain are now preparing offers for Brazil internationals Alexandre Pato and Kaka, according to reports in France.

Beckham has chosen not to join the Ligue 1 club on a free transfer due to family reasons and PSG are instead turning their attention to the two South American stars.

AFP says it has been told by sources close to PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments that the club are ready to continue their extensive investment over the past 12 months by spending 61.5 million euros on the two players.

Full story here.

COMING UP: Yes, of course there's Premier League football. Newcastle United v Manchester United and Everton v Bolton Wanderers both at 20:00 UK time.

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