|photo by Hamed Saber||via PhotoRee|
Scott sends off Luis Suarez with an appropriate mixture of emotions, at least for a scouser:
So it's finally official: Luis Suarez is going to Barcelona, ending 2.5 years of on-field brilliance and mystifying moments of lunacy. Concluding how to feel about this transfer requires a serious mental inventory, such was our emotional investment. On the one hand, there is no doubt that Suarez is one of the main factors in Liverpool's return to Premier League relevance. It would be hard to find a fiercer competitor and, if all his teammates' comments are to be believed, a more committed team player (when not wanting away, of course). He is a player who raises the level of both play and expectations of everyone around him. And he should rightly be considered, as a snapshot in time, among the absolute best in the game right now, to be mentioned in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo.
Then there is the significant monetary investment in the troublesome Uruguayan. Setting aside the 35 million-ish paid to Ajax, there is the PR sunk cost of dealing with Evra Part 1 (the comment), Evra Part 2 (the handshake that wasn't) and then the Ivanovic Bite. That we now have to distinguish which bite, never mind the Eredivisie counterpart, speaks volumes about the further spinning of the PR machine that would be required. Not to mention the sheer emotional and psychological toll expended (and yet to be expended) by players, coaches and fans alike during each of his past and future bans.
To Liverpool's great credit, there was no circling of the wagons this time around. Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me thrice... (it defies cliche). I know I was. First there was seeing the uniquely talented forward around his family and hearing his teammates wax on about his attitude and work ethic. Then, most importantly, we observed concrete, significant progress of his rehabilitation in the English Premiere League - nary a moment of lunacy all year, calmer demeanor on the field even during trying times and, to the immense pleasure of any American proselytizing for the sport in the US, a reduction of diving to near zero level.
By all accounts the narrative was fulfilling its own prophesy - that of the underprivileged, angry youth who escaped his humble beginnings to be with his beloved and play his beloved sport in ever-higher arenas. Significant lapses of decorum marred his way and, sure, it took the polemic prodigy a few more raps on the wrist to finally learn his lesson. But a settled year at the Liverpool club who patiently stood by their admittedly flawed star, a new long-term contract and statements by all about the mutual contentment of the evolving situation and prospects for the future - surely, this Merseyside cautionary tale would find its Hollywood ending.
Unfortunately, it was the wrong type of Hollywood that emerged - one of addiction and relapse. Forgive me the rough edges of this analogy, but there were glaring similarities to Suarez' World Cup cameo. After a year of clean living in the hard knocks but mostly stay-on-your-feet world of English soccer, Luis was surrounded by the environment of catty, diving soccer that international soccer can be. Away from the Liverpudlian support group, the Uruguayan simply relapsed into his old ways, shattering all the rehabilitation he had achieved in his record season with that bite and hardening the hearts of those who really thought he had gotten past it all.