By David Lynch
Love him or loathe him – and make no mistake there are plenty in the latter camp – Sunday’s Merseyside derby served as further proof that Luis Suarez just cannot keep himself out of the headlines.
The striker was perhaps fortunate to see his shot rebound in off Leighton Baines after just 14 minutes to give the visitors the lead but he responded in a manner which tallied entirely with Toffees’ fans perception of him. Suarez raced to the touchline and performed an acrobatic swan dive in front of David Moyes, the manager who had spent so much of the build-up slamming the forward’s tendency to go to ground easily.
The Uruguayan was – of course - at the heart of things again as Liverpool then carved out a 2-0 lead courtesy of his headed finish. This time no special celebration followed but the goal was greeted with equal contempt by the home support given the scorer.
|IN THE THICK OF IT
| PLAYER RATING | LUIS SUAREZ
|At his dangerous best. Scored two goals - though will perhaps have one taken from him - and constantly threatened. Denied a late winner by an incorrect offside call.|
The winner would have been little more than Suarez had deserved for his performance but that it was disallowed perhaps says more about the way in which he is perceived. Had, for example, another player on the pitch scored that goal, would the linesman have been so quick to react to Leon Osman’s claims that it had been scored in illegal circumstances? A player who so regularly bends the rules must pay the price it seems.
Regardless, it was not just his ability going forward which was fully showcased at Goodison Park, all the traits which make the 25-year-old such a controversial and captivating character in English football were aired in front of an audience who did not particularly enjoy the performance.
His scrape along Sylvain Distin’s achilles in the second half was a look into the unsavoury side of a brilliant footballer; a needless act of cowardice which could have done serious damage. Though the hysteria which surrounds diving means that subject will never be far from the lips of those passing judgement on Suarez, it is fouls such as that which will live longer in the memory and further damage his reputation.
Of course, it is hard to believe that the Salto-born striker could go any lower in the estimations of those who do not support Liverpool. And he seemed to be fully aware of his value to the Reds as he slammed team-mate Raheem Sterling for missing a golden opportunity to get the visitors back ahead early in the second half.
It is that sort of frustration which will most worry Rodgers; Suarez is one of the world’s most talented attackers but is surrounded by youngsters still finding their feet in professional football. It is difficult to see a club so mired in transition winning major trophies – and the league title in particular – any time soon, so how long will a man who could claim a place in most teams worldwide stick around to take part in that rebuilding process?
He is a fiercely loyal character, but does not have the ties to the city or club which have ensured Steven Gerrard will see out the rest of his career at Anfield. That he still desperately needs experienced help in attacking positions was clear as the duo of Sterling and Suso faded badly following Everton’s first goal.
That is a January priority for Liverpool which would not have been glossed over by a deserved derby victory late on. As it happened, the bittersweet nature of the game’s end was perfectly in-keeping with the personality of its main protagonist.
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