Monday 18 December 2017

Reds ponder hitting striker with sanctions

Ian Herbert

Liverpool will attempt to repair the club's severely fractured relationship with Luis Suarez today after accusing him of deceit, after a day of extraordinary contrition in which Kenny Dalglish admitted that his own conduct in a TV interview was not befitting of the club's manager.

It is too early to say whether Suarez will also be fined for his refusal to offer a handshake to Patrice Evra on Saturday and there are doubts whether the terms of the Uruguayan's contract allow the club to do that. But some at Anfield are deeply angered by conduct which undermined Dalglish and left him exposed when he was questioned in a TV interview about why Suarez declined the hand of the defender he racially abused at Anfield last October.

More may become clear this week on whether Suarez is fined for bringing the club into disrepute. Any move on Liverpool's part to do so would only happen once the club had established that the player could not appeal to the PFA. A brief suspension of the player seems unlikely.

Liverpool's more enduring problem is how to salvage the Merseyside career of a player whose latest apology, just like the one he issued on January 4, offered no apology or regret to Evra. The extraordinary statement issued by Dalglish was the one which displayed most contrition and was so uncharacteristic that it left the distinct impression that Fenway Sports Group -- the club's American owners -- had ordered it.

"All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner and that applies equally to me as Liverpool manager," Dalglish said. "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."

In the the 13 months since Dalglish returned to Liverpool's helm, he has been allowed virtually free reign but this was a significant moment in his relationship with Fenway Sports Group and the club's principal owner, John W Henry. The FSG website report of Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford was headlined: "Luis Suarez shows strength of character, scores in the face of adversity" and bore no reference to the hand shake.

Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, commendably led the club's attempts to repair the damage, stating that Suarez had lied to Dalglish when he agreed to shake Evra's hands. But Liverpool awaited the direction of FSG, in Boston, before acting, and the Americans' hands are on this.

Though many Liverpool fans continue to defend Suarez in the teeth of the club's first public criticism of him, Dalglish's halo has now slipped in the eyes of a section of the club's fans. A number of supporters' comments beneath the 'Liverpool Echo' report of Saturday's match called Dalglish's judgment into question. The FA are also reserving judgment on disciplinary action over Saturday's half-time tunnel melee until they see referee Phil Dowd's report. (© Indepedendent News Service)

Irish Independent

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