Most of the attention paid to Luis Suarez today will focus on the belated hearing in the ongoing Patrice Evra racism saga. It's obviously a sensitive issue, and one deserving of attention, but also one that's become farcical in terms of the way it's been handled. While we can't and shouldn't ignore the severity of the situation, it's also worth paying a little bit of attention to the performances that Suarez has been able to turn out in a climate that's become increasingly hostile.
Which isn't to say that he's some sort of martyr, because he clearly creates plenty of his own problems. He's flamboyant and irritable, looking for the slightest bit of contact and tending to embellish whatever's there. He doesn't do much to endear himself to opposition supporters, and he'll have questions to answer about his poorly-hidden gesture after the loss at Craven Cottage just under two weeks ago. If the three-man panel finds sufficient evidence to hand down consequences for abusive language or behavior, he'll be demonized even further, and, if whatever he did or said was done with malice, then it's justified.
From the outside looking in, it's a simple task to pile on a player who's not the easiest to warm up to and manages to frustrate nearly everyone associated with the opposition side. But the heightened focus over the past few weeks on everything that's wrong with him also serves to ignore the fantastic impact that he has on Liverpool's squad on a consistent basis.
Again, standard disclaimer about how none of that means anything if he's racist or said racist things and etcetera, but of late it's become habit to see his impact get ignored in service of a narrative that contradicts anything remotely positive. It's near mandatory that every match recap or review includes some reference to his mad genius and the dark arts and looming disciplinary hearings, or his past as a cannibal and murderer of potential African World Cup glories. Regardless of what he does, the football's not about the football anymore with Luis Suarez.
And it's a shame considering the type of displays he's managing week-in, week-out. Sure, his goal last Saturday was his first in league in over two months, and for a club that's struggled to find the net it's hard not to want more. That blows past everything else he does, though, and it was terrific to see another dominant performance finally rewarded with a goal. For better or worse, every Liverpool attack goes through him, and he works himself into the ground for a side that desperately need persistence.
So as we wait for the judgment from the all-knowing, all-seeing FA disciplinary panel, let's at least pass the time by acknowledging what a difference Luis Suarez makes on the pitch for Liverpool. At least before we go back to highlighting how all he's doing is ruining English football with every breath he takes.
Video by LFCMatchComp via YouTube