Suarez can only learn from mistakes if he stays at Liverpool

The Rio Report

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The most ridiculous sight of this World Cup has been the picture of Luis Suarez returning home to Uruguay to a hero’s welcome.

Hundreds of people turned up outside the player’s Montevideo home to cheer him on. He was pictured dangling his toddler children out of the window like a footballing Michael Jackson.

Presumably he was saying to them: look at all those people you can bite one day.

It is an odd response because the fact is without Suarez Uruguay’s chances in this World Cup are as good as over.

He has been suspended from the rest of the competition, thus holing below the water line his team’s hopes. You only had to look at the difference between the way they played without him against Costa Rica and the way they played with him against England and Italy to appreciate his value.

The man wins football matches. The man is a football genius. Which is why so many people around him go out of their way to apologise for his misdemeanours.


Once again, as happened when Kenny Dalglish attempted to pretend nothing happened with his racial abuse of Patrice Evra, Suarez is being treated by those closest to him as if he did no wrong.

The response in his homeland is as if he were the victim of some giant conspiracy involving FIFA, the Italian FA and the British media.

His international manager, his team-mates, his supporters have all rallied round to tell him he is the one who is being hurt in all this, the unhappy target of international anti-Uruguay prejudice.

Only the great Uruguayan hero Alcide Ghiggia, the man who scored the winning goal at the Maracana to win the World Cup in 1950, has been brave enough publicly to point out the truth: by his actions Suarez let the country down.

Because this is the reality: if he hadn’t attempted to snack on Giorgio Chiellini then he would still be in the competition. Even the most malevolent of media forces cannot manufacture his actions. He did it.


For the third time in his career he bit a fellow professional: frankly what could he expect other than a ban?

It is interesting to compare the response to this assault to what happened when he last bit someone on the field of play, in April 2013, when he chowed down on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

Then his manager Brendan Rodgers quickly appreciated what he had done was out of order. Not life threatening, obviously, not particularly physically dangerous either. But clearly not the sort of behaviour that can be allowed on a football field.

Actually, not even the sort of behaviour generally tolerated in a kindergarten.

So he made the player accept the blame and apologise. Which he did. Then Rodgers encouraged him to use the incident as a motivational tool: I did wrong, now I am going to prove through my performances that I have learned from that mistake.

As a psychological device it worked brilliantly. Suarez had the season of his life.

Sadly, it became clear hadn’t properly learned from Rodgers’s wisdom. He did it again.

And the reaction of the Uruguayans had been so pitiful it is unlikely he will gain anything from this incident: there is hardly much imperative to make the necessary behavioural change when everyone closest to you is telling you did absolutely nothing wrong.

So once again Liverpool are left in the lurch by Suarez. Another season will start with the player under a lengthy ban. It is a ban which will compromise his sell-on value, too.

Any club who wants to take a chance on a player of such fragile temperament will insist that is reflected in the price. From being one of the world’s most valuable assets, that absolutely pointless attack on Chiellini has devalued him enormously.

Rodgers, though, would ideally still want him in his squad. Of course he would: Suarez was the best in the Premier League last season, the double player of the year. His goals projected Liverpool close to the title.

However flawed he may be the manager would not wish to see him go, whatever price can be extracted. Sure, the good name of the club has been tarnished by his stupidity. But such issues will soon be forgotten once he starts rattling in the goals.

And frankly, it would be best for Suarez if he stayed. The last thing he needs – as a man as much as a player – is to be surrounded yet again by sycophants telling him he has done nothing wrong.

If he goes to Madrid or Barcelona, the very fact they have paid large amounts of cash for him will insist they value him as he is. They are not going to tell him to go and get the therapy he so evidently needs.

Rodgers, on the other hand, is a canny operator, who instinctively knows how best to handle players. He will treat Suarez with sympathy and dignity, but not without discipline and criticism.

No doubt the player’s agent will be telling him he has to move, that to return to the country where they have tried to destroy him and his reputation would only lead to unpleasantness.

The irony is, Liverpool is the only place where he can be certain of getting the kind of management and support he so obviously needs.

Jim White is covering all things World Cup from Brazil for Eurosport.

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