Alan Pardew World Cup 2014 column: English game faces mounting problems at both club and international level after the lows of Brazil

The Pard View

Suarez saga a smack in the teeth for Liverpool

My first thought when Luis Suarez had his latest moment of madness against Italy in midweek was for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool.

I know Brendan well, and he would have been buzzing about the performances of Suarez, plus Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, who I thought were England’s best two players at the tournament.

He’s got a fantastic year out of Suarez, the double Player of the Year winner, and must have been rubbing his hands together, planning ahead for a Champions’ League campaign. Then this lightning bolt strikes.

It was horrendous for Uruguay and their prospects, of course, but people here will understandably be concentrating on the implications for Liverpool, who will suffer from his ban from crucial games. And not for the first time.

I had my own moment of overstepping the mark last season, stupidly getting involved with an opposing player, and I’d like to think I learnt from it. Suarez clearly hasn’t done. You come out and apologise sincerely, resolve it won’t happen again and take the punishment and the inevitable stick that goes with it.

Video: Luis Suarez banned for biting Giorgio Chiellini
Read more: Suarez tells Fifa he 'lost his balance and bite was not deliberate'
Liverpool will not allow Uruguay striker to join Barcelona for less than £80m
Star arrives home to hero's welcome in Montevideo
Suarez 'needs help', says Uruguayan striker

Suarez has been savaged by social media as well as the traditional forms, a new phenomenon that is gathering pace quickly, but what did he expect? Every Liverpool supporter must have feared it would happen again at some point. I hear the argument that there are worse crimes in football, like breaking someone’s leg or smashing a cheekbone, but the key point is that the incident was indefensible and it’s the third time he’s done it.

Now the story moves on to whether he stays at Liverpool, as Barcelona in particular don’t seem to have been deterred from signing him. It is a problem at any level when a club with bigger resources are determined to take one of your players. When we are talking about clubs like Barça and Real Madrid it is even worse, as despite Financial Fair Play, money somehow seems to be no object.

Those clubs tend to hold a special appeal for South American players, so at the moment it all points to him eventually leaving, which will be really galling for Liverpool, as Suarez has clearly established himself among the top half-dozen or so players in the world.

Dealing with difficult players is a vital part of management. So is the additional frustration for club managers of having no control at all over your players when they disappear on international duty, whether it is for a week or a whole tournament. If they play you worry about injuries, if they don’t then you are concerned about their mentality and their fitness levels, and however you try to monitor it all it’s basically out of your control.

Latins look lively but don’t write off Europe

The way the group matches panned out, it became clear that it was the South American and even Central American teams who were energised, technically excellent and even physically stronger in those crucial one-on-ones. People have been talking about emerging nations from Africa and Asia for a long time now; they’ve not necessarily gone backwards, but the top countries are moving on all the time, tactically and technically, with the quality of players they have got coming through. Karim Benzema and the French were most impressive in the group stage Karim Benzema and the French were most impressive in the group stage

There can be organisational difficulties too at national level. I remember staying in the same hotel as one of the African teams and it was free-for-all in terms of people coming in and out all the time, hangers-on and agents everywhere, in a way we would never allow.

As to the actual matches, Europe has regularly had about 10 of the last 16 at the knockout stage, but this time there are only six, of whom Switzerland, Greece and Belgium would not be considered to be among the real big-hitters. On the other hand, Germany, France and Holland should lead the challenge.

I would expect Mexico to give the Dutch a tough game, but France have been very good. Benzema, who has never really performed on the world stage, has come alive and given them an attacking edge. It’s a balanced, intelligent team, with Yohan Cabaye pulling the strings, and they’ve found a winning formula.

I’m aware that in the knockout rounds inferior teams sometimes hang on, and occasionally get lucky on penalties. But you would still expect France to beat Nigeria and the Germans to beat Algeria in tomorrow’s matches, emphasising in both cases that the top European sides are ahead of the best African ones. If Holland beat Mexico they would then have a winnable quarter-final against the winners of the weakest second-round match, either Costa Rica or Greece. Arjen Robben celebrates the 5-1 victory over Spain Arjen Robben has been outstanding for the Netherlands

France v Germany in the last eight, with the history between them, would be a mouth-watering prospect next Friday. If one of them came through with Holland to join the South Americans in the last four that would help to round off what has been a very good tournament so far. Yet at this stage I am sticking with my original tip of Argentina.

England mustn’t allow Gerrard to walk away

A final thought or two on England, who sadly will not be greatly missed by the rest of the world as they leave the stage to others. Firstly, we jettison key players too early, and don’t put enough pressure on them to keep playing for their country when they can still do a good job. John Terry, for all the problems surrounding him in the past, is one example; look how we missed him in defence against Italy and Uruguay.

It was interesting to see Andrea Pirlo, who has been so influential for Italy, deciding to play on for them at the age of 35 if the new national coach succeeding Cesare Prandelli wants him to, after previously having said he would stop. If I was the England manager I would be round at Steven Gerrard’s house telling him we need him to stay around and carry on captaining his country, because we are desperate for that sort of experienced guidance and leadership on the pitch. It would be a massive mistake to allow him to walk away.

I’ve heard Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart suggested as successors but there are not many obvious leaders in that side, and so there is immediately another problem of who would do the job. Gerrard needs to be persuaded to stay. Steven Gerrard must be kept in the England set-up

Secondly, I agreed with the point Rafa Benitez made in the daily Independent last week, that England lack a formula and a philosophy, as countries such as Spain have. I was concerned when Roy Hodgson said he wanted the front four to be interchanging, which is something you need time to build on, as relationships have to be forged. I wrote here last week that England needed to be winning that third game to give everyone a bit of a boost, which we should have done – there was little in it for Costa Rica, but it was a drab game in which we seemed to be using the squad as if trying to keep everybody happy. We have to be a bit more ruthless than that.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence