James Lawton: Liverpool must save club's reputation by getting rid of Luis Suarez following bite
There are only so many times you compromise with gutter behaviour
What are Liverpool going to do about Luis Suarez? Is one of the great football clubs going to live on in the extreme and desperate belief that they need his talent much more than the cleansing effect of saying, "Adios hombre, thanks but in the end no thanks".
No thank you, that is, to the baggage which now includes racism, egregious and freely admitted cheating and, finally, a second case of biting into an opponent.
In Dutch football he was as brilliant as he has been so often for Liverpool in the Premier League but when he committed the crime that was repeated yesterday against Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic he was near instant history.
One newspaper christened him the "Cannibal of Ajax" and within two months he was heading for Anfield.
Ajax, of course, are also a great club, one which proudly links its name with such a man as Johan Cruyff. They knew what they were giving up when they sold on Suarez. They were losing a player of inordinate talent, wonderful skills, speed and inspiration but when you believe in what your name represents, when it is the beacon for every promising kid in your nation's football, there are only so many times you compromise with the behaviour of the gutter.
Of course it is a tragic situation when a manager of Brendan Rodgers' swiftly-won reputation for some of the best values in football, who has pledged to redeem Liverpool as a team playing their old, superior version of the game, feebly equates an elbow thrown recklessly by Fernando Torres in the direction of Jamie Carragher with the deliberate biting into an opponent's flesh.
Rodgers said the situation would be reviewed and he was, obviously, involved in the same contortions performed by his predecessor Kenny Dalglish when he defended Suarez doggedly in the racism case involving Manchester United's Patrice Evra. Dalglish's immense reputation, so brilliantly achieved over the years, suffered hugely.
Now Liverpool have to face up to the prospect of more such damage if they continue to balance the value of a superbly gifted footballer and someone plainly incapable of consistently decent conduct.
Of course it is a tragedy that Suarez himself underlined with his brilliant equaliser at the end of yesterday's game. Few in football can lift the spirits so swiftly as Suarez in a moment of sheer, devilish brilliance.
But there is also the devil in the too frequent detail.
It is of a player who once again has moved beyond a point of reasonable trust.
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