The 219th Mersyside derby should have been a memorable affair for what Luis Suarez did with the ball at his feet, not for his antics off the ball. When his second goal, the one that should have put Liverpool 3-2 up, and possibly won the game for them, was disallowed, the Everton fans didn’t hold back in their derision. It summed up his relationship with opposing fans. They don’t like him very much. And his idiotic ‘dive’ celebration at the feet of David Moyes, who has been righteously indignant about Suarez’s inability to stay on his feet when tackled, didn’t help his cause. Jurgen Klinsmann did it first, but it’s lost its appeal somewhat in the time since. And what with it being Luis Suarez, it wouldn’t have been funny anyway. What with his handball against Ghana, his attempt to bite the ear off of an opponent whilst at Ajax, and his very public spat with Patrice Evra, there are few more controversial individuals in English football.
And yet, there are few more talented players in the Premier League. Fans say of him that he could nutmeg a lamppost, or that he could create a goal out of nothing. The fact that he is so talented almost adds to fans’ dislike of him – his outrageous exploits with and without the ball make you loath him for his deeds, be it his goal against your team, or his diving against any team. Suarez is the player that opposing fans love to hate.
And he does dive. For all the Liverpool fans who insist that he is unfairly targeted, both by opposing players, and by the media, he has been shown to hero-worship Tom Daley. David Moyes was totally justified in coming out in the media and criticizing Suarez, because he’s absolutely right – divers drive people away from the game. Cheating, in whatever form, is unacceptable. His supporters say that diving, in South America, isn’t seen as cheating – it’s seen as winning a penalty for your team, which is acceptable. It’s not. Here, it is cheating, and you need to realise that as soon as possible.
Players who dive, no matter who they play for, will be held up as cheats. Suarez needs to stop, or Brendan Rogers needs to take him aside and tell him, in no uncertain terms, to stop. Otherwise, fans may well continue to throw objects – coins, water bottles, or else – at him, and in future they may well hurt.
Suarez, then, is someone who divides opinion wherever he goes. He cheats, he dives, and he has his differences with Patrice Evra and David Moyes. But he also has his moments of dazzling skill. It will be up to him to show us that we should remember him for the Good, and not the Bad.
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