By Charles Ong
Luis Suarez is never too far away from controversy. Signed by Liverpool for £23.5m in January 2011, he has attracted arguably the greatest amount of criticism from pundits, commentators, journalists and the like. Yes, it seems fashionable to do so; after all, how many players in the world can bring about such divided opinion?
Yet it is simply easy to just chat about Suarez. We could be sat here all day discussing his plus points, his faults, and not come to any conclusion. Suarez remains the talk of the town but football is doing itself a disservice if it forgets itself. The emotions of the game seep through everybody, but football is there for the joy it brings to people’s lives. We shouldn’t, and mustn’t, forget to discuss how Matt Green was menacing in the Liverpool’s box, or how Daniel Sturridge got his Liverpool debut off to a flyer etc etc.
Sturridge, a £12m signing from Chelsea, was thrown straight into the deep-end as a striker despite being blighted by recent injury troubles. In the 55 minutes he was afforded, he looked sharp, gliding throughout the final third of the pitch effectively and efficiently. A few step-overs and neat flick-ons won instant approval from the Liverpool support, and after just eight minutes he scored a debut goal with a classy, composed finish. Though he had a few clear-cut chances later on, it was all in all a good afternoon’s work. He wasn’t exactly the player I envisioned would fit into Rodgers’ system but if this was just a sneak preview of what he has to offer, I would gladly be proved emphatically wrong.
At the other end, Mansfield’s Matt Green looked anything but a non-League player. He proved too hot to handle for the Liverpool defence by providing that sort of physical presence, similar to that in the rough and tumble of the Premier League. He ran rings around Coates and it took the wisdom of 34-year-old veteran Carragher to prevent further damage being done. It’s not hard to see that further down the road, it’s inevitable that Green, having finally being exposed to national television, will now attract interest from clubs across England in a higher-tier than Mansfield.
The Mansfield v Liverpool affair was classic FA Cup stuff. A minnow pitted against the famed five-time European champions. How romantic could it get? The football – played on a soiled, muddy pitch, was described by Rodgers as ‘street football’. Indeed, it was a great advertisement for Mansfield Town and the way their manager was diplomatic in the aftermath of the result spoke volumes of how thankful he was to be able to pit his wits against Rodgers’ side.
It was unfortunate that a goal that should be disallowed decided the outcome of the match, and Mansfield thoroughly deserved a replay for their performance on Sunday. Yet the amount of words written and spotlight shone on Luis Suarez is ridiculous, because the football itself deserves more attention.