Too much has gone on, and an agenda has been in place for too long for the Uruguayan to be universally accepted by the opinion formers of the game. While Suarez himself is, of course, partly to blame for that, it would be refreshing if people could rise above pre-formed and pre-conceived ideas and simply acknowledge that this is a world-class footballer producing world-class feats virtually every time he sets foot on the pitch.
This is modern-day football, though, where heroes and villains are clearly defined, and so the sight of Suarez holding aloft one of the game’s personal awards at the end of the campaign simply won’t be accepted by some.
It will be far more likely to see Robin van Persie or Gareth Bale holding those awards, and whilst Bale in particular would be extremely deserving of such an honour following what has been a simply stellar few months, the competition that Suarez provides both should be given a lot more respect than it currently generates.
There will be those who―understandably―feel that this is a punishment that Suarez deserves following his difficult first year or so in England, a time when a die was cast and unfavourable names and reputations were forged.
Suarez made his bed back then, but should he still have to lie in it now?
Is football not as accepting of change as other walks of life seem to be? It would appear not, given the hysteria that surrounded Suarez’s FA Cup handball against Mansfield Town in the FA Cup in January.
Had that offence been committed by any other Liverpool player on the pitch that day, or indeed anyone else playing in the competition that weekend, then it would have been brushed off in the same manner that the ball clearly brushed the forward’s hand. It was an unfortunate incident that wronged a spirited non-league side and denied them a proper crack at a big boy.
But Suarez sells. Hate sells, especially in football, and so we were treated to 48 hours of intense moralising and hand-wringing from those who should have known better. It was clear to see who everyone wanted to be their villain of the piece; he was wearing Liverpool’s No. 7 shirt.
It would be tough to imagine Van Persie or Bale being treated in the same manner.
The saintly Dutchman has taken to life as the new Ferrari in the Manchester United car park with stunning ease. He is a thoroughbred, a man who Sir Alex Ferguson knew could slot into his team immediately and score the goals that will power his club to the title. Everyone could see that, and everyone has been proved right.
The feats performed by him and Bale―a player who often attracts the ire of opposing fans but one who has been the subject of rather bizarre attempts at reputation protection (Daily Mail)―of course deserve enormous amounts of respect, Bale probably more so as he doesn’t have a polished, finished article of a team around him.
If Suarez isn’t going to win those Player of the Year awards―and he isn’t, even if he follows up his hat-trick at Wigan with 10 more trebles this season―then the award should go the Welshman. It is an accolade based on personal feats of brilliance after all, and he has had plenty of those.
But Suarez has too, and it is easy to arrive at the assumption that plenty more would enjoy watching those feats if they just allowed themselves to.
For Liverpool and their fans, though, the best thing about Suarez is that he won’t care about the lack of awards and praise coming his way. If anything it’ll only spur him on to achieve better things.
Maybe it’s better for the Reds that he misses out being named Player of the Year then, not that he was ever going to win it anyway.
Minds would have to be opened for that to happen.
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