From the street it's just a wooden door. Soft lighting angles from across the way hiding the intricate craftsmanship holding the piece together. At a touch it becomes clear the quality of hardwood is being slowly undone by a lack of maintenance. Behind the door and off the cobble; into a silent belligerence of uncleanliness and dishevelment. Browning rags and paint. Brushes, dishes, and bottles concealing the twitching movements of whiskered incumbents. Easy to be disgusted if it weren't for the honesty in the uncouth state of the space. Dusty, yes, dirty. But the type of mess one generates through single-minded focus on more important matters, not just blatant disregard. The party responsible for the off-putting space is hunched over a heavy and miserably greasy table.
Yellow luminescence flickers through warm wax to gently reveal a set of old hands deftly molding lines on a shape no larger than a halved cantaloupe. A piece of remarkable subtlety and depth. A magnetic, onyx sculpting of passion. A vision. The whole room exists only for its continual care; any distraction falling away from its creator like a petal from a spent flower. The man himself clearly hasn't washed or changed in days. Beside him, old bread sits ignored on ornate silver - a forgotten thank you for the artist's remarkable labor. It's as if the piece imposes the gravity and generates the atmosphere in the place. Thickness. All eyes bound to feast on its arrogant curves, all mouths gushing at its plush implications. The artist uncurls and considers his work. A smile and a crackling sigh as he relaxes forward towards the table, nodding head into bony chest. A final breath exhaled in the presence of a finished masterpiece. Fairy dust. Alohomora my heart. Fade to black...
And that, friends, is the actual, real story of how Jesús Joaquín Fernández Sáez de la Torre's hair came to be.
If we're honest, the inception of the idea for Hairspray was probably only ever a vigorous misting away from a discussion on Suso. It's as difficult to imagine a head of hair more perfect than Suso's as it is to defend one of his scything through balls. The sheen, the bounce, the body. James Dean shudders in his grave at the casual sex appeal. Diana Ross miffs at the stolen spectacle. Suso. If Raheem Sterling is the clear poster boy for Hairspray, then Suso is the long lost lust that arrives in the middle of a rain-soaked night for an undeniable tryst that neither of us will ever forget, nor are ever willing to remember. Black curtains drape over sternly set brows right as he puts his left boot into a game winning curler, and suddenly everything is ok with the world. Nothing is complicated. Regrettably, beyond the hair, everything has always been complicated with Suso.
Cadiz born and raised before being transplanted in 2009 to the Mersey through the machinations of another great Spaniard, Rafa Benitez. The lad first came to Hairspray's attention in 2010 when Liverpool's reserves were selected on a weekly basis to do an interview with the offal site. Two questions on the boilerplate were answered with consistent results throughout that series, "Teammate who spends longest in the mirror?" and "Most skillful teammate?" That's right - Suso. Always cutting, combing, and styling his hair that Suso, but boy can he stroke a ball around the pitch. It was there from the word "Go." Little surprise, then, that when the lad arrived in the first team the TLO community went positively disorderly with two things Suso: OMG Hair & OMG Skill. Can you blame us?
Midfielder and forward. He's got some ten and he's got some six. Sturdy enough for a deep role, surly enough to be given the keys to the offensive show. Cuts inside on the left, but probably wants a freer responsibility. Not really afraid of a physical game, certainly not afraid of dribbling past one. A natural inclination to the talismanic play. All before re-entangling ourselves with the hair. With Rodgers, then, and the introduction of a system requiring positional flexibility, close-quarter skill, and arrogance on the ball, the expectations were always high from Susiopaths. In particular after seeing Sterling's meteoric rise in the first team, and Suso's ultimately very, very successful loan in La Liga. Sure, there would be tough love, but ultimately you just knew Suso was destined to bring joy down on to the Kop. Until this season. The past few months have been a rude reminder to the average Susoholic that there is another, more odious reality for yutes under BR: the Dani Pacheco Zone.
Usually young, talented, a fit for the system, and playing a position of need (typically due to an injury crisis) - those are the requirements for any player aspiring to being Pachecoed under Brenny. The potential must be flashed, it must begin to get fulfilled, then when injuries or fixture congestion present a chance... it comes... and goes... with the player in question firmly affixed to the bench (if you can make the matchday squad). Dani Pacheco. Typically, this talented, young, natural fit of a player reads the illuminated signage on the wall, and has to bid the Red bit of their footballing history adieu. Not that that is a short process, it usually involves a few loans to "develop" or "keep ticking over." Quite.
Now, Suso hasn't left yet, and there is still a chance he gets into BR's good books. But if we're honest, is there a better example of a Pachecoed starlet during the Rodgers era? Beyond Borini, of course. Or Luis Alberto. Or Oussama Assaidi (just can't quite you Assman). Or Coates (we actually could use you back, Seba). Or the not-so-young, but no-less-ostracized Lucas Leiva. Or, potentially, the fleet-footed, negatively-lensed, positively-cornea'd, and monocularly-focused Tiago iLloris? Hold on a second - are we really talking about (yes, that was hard for me to write) Suso here? Is his lack of game time indicative of an issue he's having fitting in outside the lines? Is it contracts - asking for too many squids? Is it some derogatory gesture made towards the badge?
In reality, it's entirely possible the root cause of this discussion is as much down to Rodgers as it is down to Suso. And there may be cause - great cause, loyal cause - to stick with the manager and assume Suso wears clownshoes of Balotellian proportions during training, and gives the gaffer legitimate footballing reasons to forget about him as an option. But as we sit here, haughtily primping and curling, we can't help but think of this and this, while we daydream about this. We can't help but see strengths in Suso's game that could help fill some of the failing in Liverpool's collective output. We can't help agreeing with his former Cadiz manager Quique Gonzalez when he described Suso as "...a boy with great quality, a good shot - his vision is great and his passing is outstanding." We can't fathom a prospect coming through the academy at a better time, with more talent, and doing so with better hair than Suso. There's cake, and it's our birthday - how is this not working? But most of all: how on Fowler's Red Earth does he get that hair so obscenely perfect?
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