Tuesday 20 February 2018

Luis Suárez future at Anfield in doubt as Liverpool owners step in to try and restore order

Hands away: Luis Suarez refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra ahead Manchester United's match with Liverpool at Old Trafford. Photo: Getty Images
Hands away: Luis Suarez refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra ahead Manchester United's match with Liverpool at Old Trafford. Photo: Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

LIVERPOOL striker Luis Suárez’s future at Anfield has been thrust into doubt after his club condemned him for "misleading" the club by refusing to shake Patrice Evra’s hand before Saturday’s clash with Manchester United.

Suarez apologised for his conduct, and Kenny Dalglish also felt compelled to say ‘sorry’ for his post-match behaviour following the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, admitting he did not behave in a way befitting a Liverpool manager’.

During an extraordinary afternoon when Liverpool issued three chastening statements in an effort to repair the damage of another grubby episode, the club’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, took a hands-on role to restore a sense of order at Anfield.

FSG were furious about the sequence of events before and after the match, having recently demanded everyone at the club recognise the importance of repairing Liverpool’s battered image.

After coming under mounting pressure, in both England and the United States to take the lead, this was the day the men in Boston took firm action.

Dalglish’s statement, released after those of Suarez and managing director Ian Ayre on Sunday, was the most astonishing, containing an acknlowledgment that he was at fault.

It read: “When I went on TV after yesterday’s game I hadn’t seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologise for that.”

Ayre effectively said Suarez lied in the days before the game, having earlier informed the club’s Director of Football, Damien Comolli, he would not refuse the handshake with Evra.

“We are extremely disappointed Luis Suarez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra before the game,” said Ayre.

“The player had told us beforehand that he would, but then chose not to do so. He was wrong to mislead us and wrong not to offer his hand to Patrice Evra. He has not only let himself down, but also Kenny Dalglish, his teammates and the club.”

Such strong public criticism of the striker is unprecedented by Anfield standards, and exposes the deep sense of anger at Suárez’s undermining of Dalglish.

Earlier attempts to suggest the ‘non handshake’ was instigated by Evra were rejected out of hand by Liverpool.

They are now assessing whether to take disciplinary action against the 24-year-old South American, but they must establish if they can legally do so under the terms of his contract.

Having been ostracised by the rest of English football for his conduct in the original Evra race row, Suárez is now completely isolated.

Liverpool felt particularly let down given their staunch defence of the player throughout the initial Evra case. It was telling that the first reference in Suárez’s statement was aimed towards Dalglish.

“I have spoken with the manager since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong,” said Suárez.

“I’ve not only let him down, but also the club and what it stands for and I’m sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened.

"I should have shaken Patrice Evra’s hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions. I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football.”

Liverpool’s owners will be undoubtedly monitoring his form and conduct closely over the last few months of the season as they consider if his career on Merseyside can recover from recent events


Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport