For a player to bite an opponent as Luis Suarez did to Branislav Ivanovic on Sunday is absolutely outrageous, and deeply shocking. It certainly was one of the worst things I have ever seen on a football pitch.
There are very few major incidents that people remember because of how shocking they were and they include Paolo Di Canio pushing the referee, Suarez's first bite at another player when playing for Ajax and Eric Cantona assaulting a fan in the stands. All were unbelievable to see and made you question what place the individuals had in the game.
People will debate whether Suarez biting an opponent is worse than Cantona attacking the fan and other incidents, but they cannot really be compared because each are bizarre incidents that no one could ever have imagined happening. What Suarez did was despicable, but he is not the first to have disgraced himself on a football pitch and he will not be the last.
Liverpool have to hold on to Suarez despite what he has done, in the same way that Manchester United did not take the moral high ground and get rid of Cantona – their top player at the time – because of what he did in a moment of madness. The punishment will surely fit the crime, and United stood by their man and picked up numerous trophies as a result of holding on to their star player.
Having spoken to many people in football already since the incident, everyone is asking the same things: what goes through Suarez's head, and what possesses a player to bite another, seemingly unprovoked?
It really was one of the most unexpected, incomprehensible and shocking things anyone has seen on a football pitch, and it almost cannot be explained or fully understood.
There will obviously be a lengthy ban and a fine, but the club know full well that it is their good name that is being dragged through the mud once more because of Suarez's conduct. He has proved to be a ticking time bomb and opposing players are going to be winding him up relentlessly next season, even more than they are already.
Make no mistake about it, Liverpool are fully aware that they as a club are being judged by how they react to this situation, particularly after how appallingly they dealt with the last controversy surrounding the player when he racially abused Patrice Evra, but I think they should just punish him and hold on to their biggest talent.
Liverpool have to make a decision now as to whether they are willing to put up with the forward’s antics and the controversy that surrounds him everywhere he goes, but for me it is a no-brainer.
The club do not have many world-class players, and they are well aware that Suarez is a league above most of his team-mates in terms of quality and consistent performances.
The owners are very image-conscious and Liverpool has always stood for respect and dignity on and off the field, so this is a key moment in the history of the club as they react to another very tricky and challenging situation. It was a good first step for Suarez to apologise and for the club to fine him, but I would have liked to have seen him make a statement to camera so that the world could have seen him make the apology himself, rather than in writing.
If we are honest about this, Brendan Rodgers will not want to lose his best player, and the fans would want the club to keep him so any decision to the contrary would have to come from the very top of the club, at board level.
Like it or not, this incident will have a massive impact on the start of next season, but Liverpool have to keep Suarez and build a team around him because the player is happy at the club and he is their key man.
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- Luis Suarez
- Eric Cantona