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.

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent