Ian Herbert: Liverpool mistaken to take moral high ground over 'diver' Luis Suarez

Alex Ferguson will not discuss individuals in public, 'the players know that'

It wasn’t a bright idea on the part of Luis Suarez to tell the Argentinian media that the theatrics which drew the wrath of Stoke City’s manager, Tony Pulis, and then the staunchest defence of his man by Brendan Rodgers were a dive after all. But it was even less judicious of Rodgers to declare publicly that Suarez will be dealt with.

You could see where the Liverpool manager was coming from. He and his club want to be standing on the ethical high ground now and they’d all like to think they stand for something better. But Liverpool also stand eighth in the Premier League table, six points behind Everton, two behind West Bromwich Albion, and some time soon they are probably going to need to persuade Suarez, who should be plying his trade in the knockout stages of the Champions League, to stick around for the ride, even though it might be bumpy and take two years to reach that tournament.

Suarez will find it difficult to discern what all the fuss is about, because one of the lesser appreciated nuances of the whole Suarez diving issue is that cheating belongs to a winning component known and accepted in Uruguay as viveza criolla – a kind of Machiavellian, native cunning which is all part of the pursuit of competitive advantages. No prizes, then, for imagining how Suarez, who has publicly ascribed great significance to Liverpool sticking up for him, will feel about hearing his conduct described to the media as “unacceptable” and “wrong”.

Rodgers may be embarrassed by his striker. He, after all, was the manager whose stare virtually bore a hole in the journalist who suggested after Suarez had handled the ball into the Southampton net at Anfield that he was a cheat. But Rodgers might learn from that supremely successful, though not supremely moral, manager from down the M62.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent Harvard masterclass included this significant observation on public criticism of his players: “I never discuss an individual player in public. The players know that. It stays indoors.” That’s partly because he doesn’t want to give us the satisfaction and the story.

But consider what happened when the issue of diving first surfaced for Ferguson ahead of a Champions League trip to Fenerbahce, seven years ago. It was at the airport baggage carousel that the small group of accompanying journalists was told discreetly told that the manager wanted to address the issue. Ferguson then spoke generally about how a club like United would not accept individuals – naming no names – “overplaying” fouls. It was a transparent message, being telegraphed to the then 19-year-old Ronaldo, without Ferguson even naming him.

In more recent years, Ferguson has been slightly blunter about simulation. He would “have a word” with Ashley Young, he said last season. Nani had “made a meal” of things against Tottenham, he said in November. But while those players need Ferguson, Rodgers needs Suarez. In the desperate pursuit of success in football, there is no room for idealism.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links