Luis Suarez' future hasn't been decided yet, but with a ruling expected later in the day it might not be long now, and in the meantime new details from the case and Patrice Evra's racism charges begin to come out. Plus Liverpool lose out on a potential transfer target who was never really a potential transfer target, and there's good news to share when it comes to Steven Gerrard's groin and the man it's attached to…
* Queue the fireworks. Ready the confetti. Plan the parade route. Because Steven Gerrard is back in town and fit. Almost. For now at least. But whatever way you feel like wrapping it up, Gerrard is expected to return to full training on Monday, and part of the reason for a lack of updates on the player in recent weeks was that he spent time in Abu Dhabi regaining fitness with local club Al Jazira. Nothing like lamb chops and Lamborghinis in the sun to cure what ails you—just watch out for the sand, it gets everywhere. And we don't need another groin infection to add to the ever-lengthening list of complications.
Sand aside, this latest news raises hopes that Gerrard, Gerrard's infected groin dong, and Gerrard's infected ankle may all be ready on schedule for the January return that was his rumoured target from shortly after the latest set of setbacks began. Of course, at this point Gerrard has spent most of the past two seasons injured, and any time he seems about ready to come back seems right about the time a new complication always pops up. Or if one somehow, miraculously doesn't before he returns, it just means he'll get in fifty-three minutes of football before hobbling off the pitch with a dyslexic duodenum. Liverpool without Gerrard has sadly become the norm of late, and so as good as it is to hear that he's one step closer to returning, it will be hard to entirely believe he can play any kind of role in Liverpool's 2012 until he makes it through at least a match or three fit, healthy, and unscathed.
* It's not exactly a good bit of news. And it's not really about Liverpool, if you're in a pedantic mood. Hell, it's probably not even especially related to Liverpool if you're not in a pedantic mood. But it does mean that his name won't be mentioned in connection with Liverpool any more even if it never made sense for a thirty-year-old striker who took shots at the club last January when Fernando Torres headed to Chelsea to be linked in the first place. Not that it ever seemed as though the player, with wages north of 100k per week and out of form for most of the past year and a half and who has found himself falling down his club's pecking order, ever would have seemed a good fit for Liverpool if the owners felt they needed instant help up front anyhow. At least not in any sensible world.
Then again, this isn't any sensible world—this is the world where serious people can seriously suggest that Fernando Torres could seriously be heading back to Liverpool in the new year and mostly it ends with lots of people with short memories thinking it'd be a good idea. Which means that instead of rumours of spending £30M on one misfiring, overpriced Spanish striker who talked about how he wouldn't want to play for Liverpool in January, we're now left with just the £20M, misfiring, overpriced Spanish striker who talked about how he wouldn't want to play for Liverpool in January to speculate on. Which, with apologies to David Villa's broken tibia—and to you, too, if you hadn't sorted out that we were talking about David Villa—is sort of an improvement from a Liverpool point of view.
And if you don't think it actually is an improvement from a strictly Liverpool point of view, I'm sure founding member of football blogging's axis of evilthe rumour mongers at Caught Offside will be happy to stuff their nauseating pabulum down your throat until you choke. It'll probably involve calling Andy Carroll a £35M flop before doing a triple salchow and suggesting that the solution to Andy Carroll being a £35M flop is splashing nearly as much money again on a striker who's only available because his form at his current club would qualify him for being called a flop by Caught Offside.
* January's silly season may not quite be fully upon us, but the FA has done its best to give Liverpool an extra special, extended silly season for the holidays. And meanwhile I'm left feeling guilty because all I got for them in return is a sneer and an extended middle finger. Grievances—justified or otherwise—aside, after weeks of endless dragging it appears as though we might finally be coming to the conclusion of Suarezgate. Or at least the Suarezgate that involved Patrice Evra claiming he was racially abused more than ten times within hearing of the referee when the two sides met on October the fifteenth, aka. over sixty days ago. Along with the hope for a chance at the possibility of some measure of closure just over the horizon, new details of the ongoing case have begun to leak out, and while we can't always completely avoid our biases around here, many of those recently emerged details don't seem to paint Evra in an especially flattering light:
Shortly after the corner, referee Andre Marriner called the pair together for a lecture. Suárez apologised and attempted to pat the United full-back on the head. “Don’t touch me, you South American,’’ Evra is alleged to have said. To which, the Uruguayan replied: “Porque, Negro?’’
Despite Marriner’s intervention, Evra remained furious. When he caught Kuyt two minutes later, Evra responded to Marriner’s caution by allegedly claiming: “You’re only booking me because I’m black.’’
If that is in fact the only potentially problematic word Suarez used, and if that is in fact the only manner in which he used it, and if it was indeed used in the manner suggested within hearing of the referee, then it's exceptionally hard to see the case ending with punishment for Suarez. At time same time, it's actually Evra's use of "South American" as a pejorative term that seems the far more loaded use of language in that exchange, at least as it is now being reported, while that Evra subsequently charged the referee of racist motivations for booking him only speaks further to a frustrated, angry player spoiling for a fight and seeing sinister motives in every action. Moreover, given the FA's myriad respect campaigns and that they recently decided to charge Liverpool with failing to control their players for arguing an official's decision, there seems a case to be made for Evra facing disciplinary action for his words to Andre Marriner regardless of the outcome for Suarez.
We'll be back later on, either to curse the FA or to grudgingly not-curse the FA. Or maybe to moan about how they've found some reason to wait another six weeks before reaching any kind of decision. But in the meantime…