Liverpool fear past indiscretions will cost Luis Suárez player of the year crown
NO SOONER had Luis Suárez completed his latest hat-trick than the conversation turned to whether he had secured extra crosses in the vote for the footballer of the year.
“It should only be judged on his performance on the field,” Stewart Downing said.
That such a point should need emphasising is symptomatic of the highly developed streak of sanctimony infecting the chattering circle. Are we no longer judging the footballer of the year solely on who is the best footballer of the year?
Suárez’s misdemeanours might be regarded as so nauseating, it would not matter if in his next game he juggled the ball 60 yards before chipping the goalkeeper with a back-heeled ¬volley. How reassuring it is to know the Patrice Evra race-abuse affair and a propensity to dive make Suárez unfit to join an honours roll that includes the paragons of virtue, Cristiano Ronaldo and John Terry.
Downing, who headed Liverpool's first goal in the 4-0 defeat of Wigan Athletic, called on his fellow professionals to stick to the usual measures. “It should be judged on how he plays and, for me, that’s all it boils down to. Nothing else should matter,” he said. “Obviously he’s had things which have happened in the past, but he’s got on with his football and does his job. The number of goals he’s scored is frightening.”
Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool’s manager, is not convinced performances will be the deciding factor.
“I am not sure,” he said. “Everyone understands his passion and he has got himself into trouble a couple of times. But when you judge the player of the season on performance level and goals, then I can’t see how you can look further than him. I would hope others will do that, certainly the professionals within the game. He is a genuine world-class player.”
If these worries are valid, one wonders what type of players we really want in this country. Ask a manager what he desires in his squad – skill, yes, but personalities who can be rascals are more desirable than timid boy scouts. Give Roy Hodgson another Wayne Rooney, playing on the edge, rather than an extra Theo Walcott, who still looks like he bob-a-jobs and disappears in the toughest venues.
Whether Suárez is selling the English game with as much objectionable as desirable publicity, he enhances the Premier League.
He was captivating from first to last here. His touch was beguiling, goals a mixture of the great and the good, and his willingness to run to lung capacity suggested he might need an oxygen bottle rather than an energy drink at the final whistle.
The Uruguayan is instantly ¬working in tandem with Phillipe Coutinho, creator of the first two goals with the kind of nimble feet, vision and ability to execute a pass which could transform Liverpool from an exciting to a mesmerising attacking unit.
Wigan could argue Pepe Reina had his best game of the season but there was a significant gulf in class. It was Suárez’s day. One of his many this season. If he does not win player of the year because Gareth Bale is considered even better, so be it. If he is ignored because we are handing out a halo rather than a trophy, they may as well as host this summer’s ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral.