Liverpool might end up in fourth position and wrap up a League Cup, perhaps even an FA Cup trophy too. At the season’s end, however, the most poignant event, the most significant, will still be the Luis Suarez debacle. This club, Liverpool, of the John Barnes era, which stood up against continued racism (during the days when bananas were thrown at the England winger, and star Liverpool player, John Barnes from the terraces) has now sided with a player found guilty of racist incitement by a tribunal.
Not only have Liverpool sided with the player, perhaps understandable if a sincere apology had been forthcoming and an improvement in behaviour noticed, but Liverpool have yet to show any collective remorse or even understanding of what exactly it is that has happened. Kenny Dalglish, the symbolic and managerial head of Liverpool Football Club, has acted shamefully. He has taken the wrong turn at every corner, backing a player when some distance needed to be shown, and then distancing himself from events when some tact were required. For example, during Saturday’s match at Old Trafford, Luis Suarez refused Patrice Evra’s handshake as though he were the one with the right to feel affronted. It was Patrice Evra whom had been racially abused. It was Luis Suarez who had been found guilty. Yet it was Luis Suarez who flamed the fires of the affair by rejecting a welcoming handshake from Patrice Evra. The Frenchman, Patrice Evra, had acted diplomatically. Luis Suarez had acted impudently. And Kenny Dalglish again refused to condemn the act even claiming, and then contradicting himself, that he had not seen the incident.
Liverpool are worse off, as an institution, from this incident. The players, having collectively supported Luis Suarez, appear to have cast bad judgement. The manager, Kenny Dalglish, has made poor calls. Liverpool, a club of great history, have had their image tarnished by this incident and it was no surprise, after the match, to hear Sir Alex Ferguson, of Manchester United, claim that Luis Suarez was a disgrace and Liverpool should have nothing more to do with him.
Of course, that won’t end up happening. The Uruguayan is the team’s best attacker, his importance to the team only superceded by Steven Gerrard, the captain and Liverpool legend. Liverpool need the Uruguayan to mount a final charge at the UEFA Champions League places and perhaps secure a couple of domestic trophies but, when the dust has settled, it will be quite clear that this has been a bad season for Liverpool FC.