ARE Luis Suarez's days at Liverpool Football Club numbered? Sir Alex Ferguson would like that to be the case – but that probably has more to do with the fact that he fears what the Uraguayian can do as a footballer than anything else.
Liverpool don't look like contenders at the moment, but Ferguson can see that they have a seriously good back four, a midfield that's just a Lucas away from being competitive with the best and another striker away from having a fearsome strikeforce, led by the instinctive and brilliant Suarez.
Suarez is a truly gifted footballer, but clearly he's a flawed individual – aren't we all? Well yes we are, but how many of us carry the nickname "Cannibal of Ajax"? You can put the incident where he bit the shoulder of an opponent during an Eredivisie match for Ajax down to youthful exhuberence and, perhaps, willful stupidity, but what he did on Satuday afternoon was, arguably, worse even than that.
He misled his club, his misled his manager and let himself down badly when he refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra – the man who accused him of racial abuse and in whose favour a Football Association tribunal found.
Does it mark him down as some sort or irremediable villain? Or more of the pantomine variety? It's probably a case of a little from Column A and a little from Column B. Yes, he's badly damaged himself and wherever he goes from now on he's likely to be the victim of cat calls and boos.
He's apologised, or at least he's been forced to apologise, so the poison has been drawn from the situation, but the fact that the club's sponors – British bank Standard Chartered – and the club's owners – the Fenway Sports Group – felt compelled to get involved is what makes you think that his days are numbered.
No serious monied interest wants to be tainted with any suggestion of racism, or in this case, the failure to own up to, apologise for and move on from a cloud of racially charged bad blood.
For his manager Luis Suarez might be indispensible and that's why Dalglish launched his illadvised rant at Sky Sports' correspondent Geoff Shreeves, but, to men like John W Henry, Suarez is just another commodity – albeit a rather expensive one. One that, should he become more trouble than he's worth, can be moved on.
At best Suarez's cards have been marked. At worst he's headed for the exit. If he is forced to leave the club then he has nobody to blame but himself.