If Luis Suarez can lead his employers to their 19th English league title and satiate the Liverpudlian’s hunger nearing two and half decades, he will be elevated to ‘best player on planet’ status. The fans, the English media, the historic celebrations will ensure that. While their talisman (Gerrard) and manager (Rodgers) be equally heralded, Luis will carry the halo.
Liverpool may not have played European football this season, Suarez himself was serving a ban for the first five league games of the season, but globally we all can sense the moment (and I pray it happens!). A second string Chelsea and two mid table teams await them, both with their annual objectives fulfilled and looking upto the breather. Liverpool’s bigger challenge will come from within - their fans, their own expectations and the weight of burgeoning pressure.
The Etihad faced similar circumstances two years ago when they had a relegation threatened team to overcome at their fortress. Yet they succumbed to the enemy within. But for the last kick of the game, the title was being handed over on a plate to their red neighbours and arch rivals. A supposed cake walk afternoon for Manchester city fans, ultimately needed the blessings of destiny to spare a permanent nightmare.
Liverpool will go through the same. Their cavalier approach has rewarded them with 11 wins on the trot, but as days go by, there will be doubts - suspicions of a team not used to winning titles. There was a reason why Sir Alex Ferguson never wanted rivals to win a trophy - it takes just one podium finish to shed that losing mentality. That losing mentality, which Liverpool still harness.
It is at those moments when the reds will need their arrow head to strike, and strike big. The Uruguayan has scored eight goals and 13 assists in his last 14 league games - fabulous by global standards but pedestrian by his own – after he started the season banging 21 and assisting 12 in his first 16 league games. It’s his own standards which need this reset button.
Ten months ago the disloyal and uncertain personality in him was looking for a move to . of all clubs …. Arsenal. But his fans stayed loyal. For a player who tarnished the legendary club’s image with controversies ranging from biting to handball to diving to racism to finger wagging, his fans stayed loyal. Red carded on his debut national game, decisive handball in WC 2010 and similar string of controversies at Ajax, the fans still welcomed him with arms wide open. Suarez owes a lot to them, to himself, to his manager, owners and to football.
All these headline grabbing incidents, naturally, made him a favourite with the press. Such volatile personalities always start with an advantage, as, when they do something great, it’s spoken, written and discussed so much that greatness is bestowed easily. In cricket, Shane Warne is considered the much better bowler than the silent assassin who holds the records. That’s life.
Suarez must strive to give this last burst of thrust. He must. Liverpool deserve it. Any team that wins their last 14 games showcasing power, flair and averaging near to three goals per game (last 11 games) deserve the victory lap. It will be good for football, for a coach who believed in youth, in relentless attacking football and for all our Mersyside friends. Liverpool will go bonkers and Suarez elevated to a position above Messi and Ronaldo…atleast till the Brazil quadrennial event reaches its decisive stages. Come on Luis Alberto Suarez, go for it!