How much will one bite cost Liverpool?
There is no denying the fact that Luis Suarez indeed ‘messed up big’ this time. His first biting incident while at Ajax, wasn’t much noticed. His second biting incident concerning Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at Anfield however, caused a big furore. The player was subsequently punished with a 10 match ban, because of which he missed the first six games of the season.
Yet, as soon as the Uruguayn returned back, he silenced all his critics with some great performances and won almost all the awards, that a player playing in England could achieve. Fans were thrilled to watch a better performing and well-behaved Suarez. Fans of Uruguayan football team were expecting to see the genius do some great things for his country at the World Cup and he did give some hint of his brilliance with his two brilliant goals against England.
But all hell broke loose as soon as Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini during the game the World Cup 2014 game against Italy at Natal. The player instantly became one of the most hated persons on Earth, with millions of derogatory comments on the social network.
Media outlets throughout the world have probably found the ‘hottest scandal of 2014’ in the incident. But for all Anfield faithfuls, this incident has become one of the biggest tests of their patience and support for Liverpool.
Ultimately, FIFA decided to ban him for nine international matches and four months from all footballing activities, which will see him return to action only around November.
In the last few days, looking at the social networking websites and Liverpool fans’ pages, it’s pretty obvious to notice fans divided across two sections: one supporting Suarez and the other wishing the exit of Suarez. But what is sure is that Liverpool will be missing their most talented player for a significant time in next season’s campaign.
How costly could FIFA’s ban be to Liverpool?
In the next four months, Suarez won’t be allowed to perform any official activity related to football. So much so, that the player has even been banned from entering a stadium. Ultimately, Liverpool will probably be without Suarez, during the group stages of the Champions League and well as around 12 games in the premier league.
Without the striker, the loss of valuable points in the beginning of the campaign could indeed prove very costly to the club for the entire season. On the back of a wonderful season in 2013/14, Liverpool fans are already expecting the club to perform even better next season. Without Suarez however, (or perhaps an equally good talent in the team), it will be very hard for Liverpool to achieve the expectations.
And looking at the striker’s past history as well as the increased hostility of the British media, fans can expect the days of the striker’s committment at Liverpool to be numbered.
The question that’s being raised by most Anfield loyals is whether we should pin our hopes completely around Suarez next season. Before he returns back we will have to play against Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton. These are games that could entirely define the upcoming season. So expecting Suarez’s return to fix it all up is definitely not going to be a safe bet. And based on Liverpool’s own past history, we all know the long term effects of a single bad season.
What can we expect in the coming days?
Last year, before the season started fans believed that they had seen enough and nothing could go any worse. Suarez was serving FA’s ban of 10 games and had hinted that he wanted to leave England, especially on the back of the hostile reaction by the English media. However, owner John E. Henry and Chairman Ian Ayre dealt the situation very cleverly to ensure that Suarez didn’t land in Arsenal or Real Madrid, in spite of some serious offers.
But, this time the situation has even gotten worse. Suarez’s act was seen by audiences all over the world, including the fans who only watch the game of football during the World Cup. Hence, this time it’s not just the problems related to the image of the club (which we have handled in the past), but also problems related to the finances of the club, with genuine concerns put by sponsors.
So its increasingly looking harder and harder to imagine Suarez staying at Liverpool next season. With more rumors of Liverpool contacting more agents and players, speculation that a possible sale to Barcelona will indeed happen next season is gaining more credibility by the day.
So will replacing Suarez with some more players work for Liverpool? We know how Tottenham has faltered after the sale of Luka Modric and Garrath Bale. However, if players like Edison Cavani, Alexis Sanchez and Xherdan Shaqiri can be brought to the club at the cost of Suarez, next season might go even better.
In last week’s column, I had put the view that filling the gap in the team left with the exit of a top player like Suarez by a ‘patchwork signing’ just won’t be good for the club. I still remain committed to the view. But, if the club is willing to put some serious investment, finding a good replacement for him may not indeed be so hard.