Life Without Suarez
Liverpool were left resigned to the fact that they will be without their star striker Luis Suarez for the remainder of this season and the first 6 matches of next season after accepting the FA’s 10 match ban for his infamous bite on Chelsea defender Ivanovic in last weekend’s match at Anfield.
Although Liverpool felt aggrieved to be dealt a lengthy ban for their player, they did the correct thing by accepting the ban and by moving on and putting an end to the matter. The big question now is, who will score the goals for Liverpool ?
Luis Suarez has been in outstanding form for Liverpool this season and his goal scoring record of 30 goals in 44 competitive games has been invaluable to the Anfield side. Liverpool were so reliant on Suarez for the first half of this season as Liverpool were short of recognised strikers with the departure of Kuyt, Bellamy and Andy Carroll moving to West Ham United on loan for the whole season. Liverpool missed out on Clint Dempsey on the last day of the transfer window as he chose to sign for Spurs instead and Liverpool’s new signing Fabio Borini broke a foot early in the season to compound Liverpool’s striking problems.
Liverpool’s striking problems have eased slightly in January when they signed Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and he has linked up well with Suarez and has now scored 8 goals in 13 matches for his new club after his double on Saturday.
Well Saturday was Liverpool’s first match without Suarez as they travelled to Newcastle and they did pretty well. They not only won, but they scored 6 without reply, in what was Newcastle’s heaviest defeat since the 1920’s.
Daniel Sturridge replaced Suarez in attack in what was manager Brendan Rodgers only change to the team that faced Chelsea the previous week. Liverpool were very impressive in a one sided match that they dominated against a poor Newcastle team. Sturridge scored 2 goals in an impressive striking performance where he linked up with the incisive passing of Liverpool’s midfield on numerous occasions. Sturridge produced a striking performance that would have pleased Brendan Rodgers immensely as he held the ball up before linking up with Liverpool’s advancing midfielders. The way Sturridge played off the shoulder of Newcastle’s last defender was also encouraging as he gave the likes of Coutinho and Gerrard a target to hit behind the defence. The 2 goals was just the icing on the cake from his impressive performance and it was good to see him unhappy to be replaced by Jonjo Shelvey late in the game as he wanted his hat-trick.
Sturridge has stated in the past that he wanted to play through the middle as a striker and supposed to be part of the reason that he left Chelsea in January because he was used mostly out wide at Stamford Bridge as his chances were limited at playing through the middle.
Sturridge must be Rodgers’ number one striker now and this is a great chance for the former Chelsea man to play in his more favoured position. The only concern is his fitness as there has been a few niggling injuries since his arrival in January . So if Sturridge stays healthy Liverpool might not miss Suarez’s absence too much.
But Liverpool got lucky with Suarez in the early part of the season when he was the only striker because he is very resilient and stays free of injury. But Liverpool might not be so lucky with Sturridge and his resilience, so they need other options.
Fabio Borini has been very unlucky with injuries since joining Liverpool and it was a bonus for Liverpool to see him back in action on Saturday and even better to see him score his first League goal for his new club.
Borini’s return gives Brendan Rodgers another option in attack and the Italian will be eager to make up for lost time in a frustrating and disrupted first season at Anfield.
The summer will no doubt see players come and go at Anfield and the striking department could be an area that Rodgers will want to strengthen, especially with Suarez’s ban continuing into the new season.
Andy Carroll is a subject of much speculation as he looks like returning from his loan spell at West Ham United in the summer, but there is also much talk of him returning to his native town of Newcastle for a second spell at his home town club.
Brendan Rodgers doesn’t seem to fancy Carroll and he wasn’t long farming the big striker out on loan, even with strikers in short supply in his squad. Andy Carroll has played pretty well in his time at West Ham after a few injury problems earlier in the season and he has managed to weigh in with 7 goals in 21 appearances for the Hammers.
Some footballing experts believe Andy Carroll would be ideal for Liverpool’s attack as many attacks from Liverpool in wide positions end up with wasted crosses into the opposition box with no target to hit. Carroll’s physique and style of play would also give Liverpool an option of a plan B that has been lacking in certain games this season when Liverpool have struggled.
But if anything is to be acknowledged from Saturday’s win at Newcastle then it must be that the dependency on one player was quashed as different players got into attacking positions and this was proved by the number of different goal scorers.
Suarez’s absence could be a blessing in disguise and make Liverpool a more difficult team to predict if they are going to produce attacks through different players getting into forward positions and when Suarez returns to the team next season he will only strengthen the attack that has learned to live without him. So there could be many positives to come out of Suarez’s ban that many thought would be a disaster for Liverpool Football Club highlighting the saying “that no player is bigger than the club”.
It is official, the leaked photos were accurate.
Liverpool 2013-14 home kit
2013-14 Goalkeeper shirt
Below is the press release from Warrior.
[02 MAY, 2013] Following the landmark success of Warrior’s inaugural Liverpool FC home kit – the fastest-selling in the Club’s history – the brand has revealed its new design for the 2013/14 season.
Headlining Warrior’s new and electrifying ‘Rise Up LFC’ campaign (#RiseUpLFC), the home kit is a modern take on the 1984 version, worn during the Club’s fourth European Cup win.
“The new home kit pays tribute to the renowned success LFC is built on, but it is also a nod to the future,” said Richard Wright, head of Warrior Football. “With high performance the top priority, our design team has further developed what was loved about our last design and lifted it to a new level. The result is an innovative take on the iconic red jersey.”
Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers has applauded the new home kit.
“It’s distinctly Liverpool which the players and I love. It exceeds what we need it to do technically while also delivering a strong visual statement,” said Rodgers.
The 2013/14 Liverpool FC home kit includes a number of fresh design features.
Giving the familiar a contemporary overhaul, a white three-piece collar set upon a striking red colour scheme is complemented by mirrored details on each sleeve. Historically worn by player greats such as Alan Kennedy and Ian Rush, the bold white accents define the overall look.
Embraced by fans following its re-introduction in 2012, the Liver Bird crest has been incorporated into the new design in two key ways. Running alongside the embroidered emblem, a new pin-striped sublimation print on the front of the shirt showcases the iconic symbol with the words, ‘Liverpool FC’. Interwoven using a darker red hue, this eye-catching detail strengthens the kit’s visual depth.
In line with the 2012/13 version, two embroidered Eternal Flames alongside a 96 logo are located on the nape of the shirt’s neck to commemorate the events at Hillsborough in 1989.
Engineered to enable optimum on-pitch performance, the kit has been constructed using War-Tech, Warrior’s signature apparel technology system. Highly breathable, moisture-wicking War-Tech fabric has been used to build the main body of the shirt. Four-way stretch mesh paneling under the arms and across the back will allow for unparalleled airflow and ventilation, helping players stay comfortable in core heat areas of the body.
Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard says the new design has been embraced by his teammates.
“The players and I are all genuine fans of the new kit,” he said. “It will certainly spark many happy memories of the Club’s famous fourth European Cup win for supporters of that era. As with all Liverpool shirts, I will wear it with pride and carry the excitement and history of what it represents, and, as a team, we hope to bring that success back to the Club.”
Fans are encouraged to weigh in with their feedback about the new home kit by connecting with Warrior Football onTwitter using the hashtag, #RiseUpLFC.
By Arun Nair – (@Nair_39)
Link to Part One: http://www.empireofthekop.com/anfield/2013/04/27/suarez-10-match-ban-part-one-analysing-the-ircs-reasoning/
On Friday, The FA released their Independent Regulatory Commission’s written reasoning for the 10-match ban given to Luis Suarez for his infamous bite on Branislav Ivanovic in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Anfield last Sunday .
The 21-page document brings to light some of the inconsistencies and the hypocrisy of English football’s governing body and how they work.
Many Reds fans feel the player and the club have the right to feel aggrieved having read the regulatory panel’s reasoning, which, among other flaws, has little explanation of why the additional match suspension was seven games.
Here, in Part Two, I will analyse the main points of the IRC’s reasoning behind the length of Suarez’ suspension.
1) The Guides
Having stated that “the standard punishment[three-match ban] is clearly insufficient,” following the judgement that the incident was “truly exceptional” the IRC then deliberated as to what additional punishment should be served.
They noted that “there were no guidelines or precedence for this type of incident.” but stated that the panel would concentrate on “comparable violent conduct offences as a guide.”
Thus, they “considered and gave regards to the two previous cases, which the circumstances of the incidents were deemed to be truly exceptional and where there were claims by The FA that the standard punishments were clearly insufficient.”
The two cases used as guides were Eden Hazard’s infamous kick on a ballboy during Chelsea’s Capital One Cup semi final, second-leg goalless draw at Swansea, and Brighton’s Ashley Barnes’ trip on the referee in his side’s 1-0 defeat at Bolton.
However, why was the lower-profile incident of Chester’s Sean Hessey, who was given a five-match ban for a bite, not considered comparable? True, Suarez did not cite this case in his own submissions, but that should not be an obstacle, since he did not cite either of the cases that were used in comparison to his by the panel. The IRC would undoubtedly attribute this to the fact that “Rules, regulations and practices have evolved” as stated in their report, but surely not to the extent that the incident may be disregarded, nor the punishment for biting should be doubled?
The IRC noted that the Regulatory Commission for Hazard’s case “found that the standard punishment was sufficient,” and thus the Belgian served a three-match ban.
2) “Significantly more serious”
However, in comparison to the Hazard case, the IRC explained that, with regards to Barnes, “the Regulatory Commission found that the standard punishment was insufficient and decided to award a further three-match suspension, making a total of six-match suspension (in addition to one extra match suspension for his second dismissal of the season).”
After considering factors a to g(see Part One for more), the panel “concluded that this offence is significantly more serious than that of Ashley Barnes’ and, accordingly, the punishment should be significantly higher.”
At this point, the IRC does not make any reference as to how the judgements of the factors considered in both the Suarez and Barnes cases differ, merely stating that the panel judged Suarez’ more serious. No reasoning is present.
Meanwhile, while the report does not make any mention of Prime Minister David Cameron, paragraph 82.8 is almost an exact reproduction of what an official spokesman for Cameron said about Suarez earlier this week:
“All players in the higher level of the game are seen as role models, have the duty to act professionally and responsibly, and set the highest example of good conduct to rest of the game – especially to young players. In this regard and on this occasion, Mr Suarez’s conduct had fallen far below the standards expected of him.”
As for Cameron’s comments, well, it’s fortunate that his country doesn’t have any problems that need dealing with at the present, allowing him to intervene in comparatively trivial matters. Oh wait…
3) The Sanction
It seems, as many earlier suggested, that Suarez’ belief that the standard three-match ban would be sufficient counted against him. The IRC explained:
“We took into consideration of Mr Suarez’s apology, his personal statement, supporting letter from Mr Brendan Rodgers and the letter from Ms Zoe Ward. But when these were read in conjunction with Mr Suarez’s denial of the standard punishment that would otherwise apply for violent conduct is clearly insufficient, it seemed to us that Mr Suarez has not fully appreciated the gravity and seriousness of this truly exceptional incident.”
So Suarez should probably not have denied the FA’s claim that the standard punishment was “clearly insufficient.” It was hardly likely that the IRC would agree with the Uruguayan, and to reiterate, it very much seems to counted heavily against him. Perhaps without this factor, Suarez would have received a suspension closer to the six to eight game mark many estimated, and would have been less dismayed by.
The panel continued:
“We also felt that the purpose of our decision should not only be a punishment to Mr Suarez for the offence committed, but must also be sending a strong message that such deplorable behaviours do not have a place in football.”
The above again raises the point made by Suarez(see more in Part One) that fellow professionals and others, whether inside or outside the game, know that biting is wrong and do not need to see the Uruguayan receive a hefty ban to confirm it.
At the same time, this statement appears to confirm the assertion by many Liverpool fans that Suarez, whilst deserving of punishment for his actions, is being used simultaneously as a scapegoat.
Finally, the IRC concluded that “After taking everything into consideration, we decided that Mr Suarez must serve an additional seven-match suspension on top of the automatic three match suspension.”
That’s it. No reasoning, other than the earlier claim that the incident was more serious than that of Barnes, who received an additional three. They could have given an extra four, five, six, eight or more. But they chose seven. Why?
Many people, from fans, to pundits, to Premier League managers, have called for more clarity in explaining bans - a recurring problems which also manifests itself in Suarez’ case.
In addition, the IRC stated that “We did not find good cause to suspend any of the additional match suspension.”
Many have disagreed with this, including Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. He argued:
“It could have been 12 with six suspended. That shows and tells the player it’s unacceptable what he did and everyone knows that but you have to put the carrot in front of the player to help him improve his behaviour and help with the rehabilitation and this has only been punishment.”
Meanwhile, many have raised the issue that Suarez will serve a ban for biting greater than the eight-match suspension he served for (alleged) racial abuse, and indeed over double the ban ex-England captain John Terry served for the same offence(four games). Are the IRC suggesting that a petulant bite is worse than racial abuse? If so, then Suarez’ ten-match ban provides an outrageous two-fingered salute to anti-racism.
If not, is this a ten-match ban simply because it is Luis Suarez?
There appears to be a correlation between public indignation, newspaper column length and severity of punishment; there is little other guideline to how the FA totalise their punishments, after all.
By no means is Suarez the victim of the piece, but does the Uruguayan have the right to feel aggrieved over the IRC’s judgement?
Perhaps the FA are as guilty as any other. They are in no uncertain terms, nor likely to be, corrupt, as the forlorn cry will come, but merely inept at making such judgments.
It’s ironic that, ultimately, the “Decisions and Reasons” of the Independent Regulatory Commission raises more questions than it does answers. Questions about a governing body and a regulatory commission whose processes are deeply flawed.
Luis Suarez was wrong, but maybe so is the FA’s judgement.
Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the Suarez ban. Did he deserve it? Was it too severe? Leave your thoughts below, and look out for Part Three: The Non-Appeal And Suarez’ Future. Coming soon.
Link to the full IRC document: