Detoxification. I've been thinking a lot about detoxification. After weekend spent putting Dionysus to shame, there came the inevitable guilt spiral, upon whose serpentine twists I am still spinning. Dublin, or Liverpool West, as it became for the last few days, is an easy place to lose the run of your gym-going, routine-craving self. Another day of debauchery and I'd have crossed over to the dark side, taken up residency in the doorway of an Off-Licence and spent whiskey-soaked days spouting embarrassing quasi-philosophical nonsense at all who passed. So, for you dear reader, there'd be little discernible change really.
Still, the purgative-desires of one idiot are but a mere bagatelle when compared to the need for cleansing that Liverpool Football Club currently has. No amount of wheatgrass shots or milk thistle tablets will help with extracting the poisonous toxicity currently being created by Luis Suarez. Like some kind of warped version of Macbeth, the Uruguayan has morphed into full-on anti-hero mode. Initially, we applauded his ferocity and will, and we warily indulged his less savoury characteristics. After all, he was ours, wasn't he? He was brilliant, wasn't he?
Of late, however, Suarez has systematically eroded all that good will and indulgent patience, goaded into ever more ambitious and self-serving action by his very own Lady Macbeth, Pere Guardiola. His tragic flaw of ruthless ambition may prove to be his undoing, and Liverpool must be watchful that a summer spent trying to build a feel-good pre-season is not allowed to be utterly destroyed by the fall-out from this most ugly of sagas. John Barnes has warned of the dangers of fans deifying footballers, but it's just no fun not to. We want to love them. We want heroes and villains. What we romantic fools really need, is for the club to insulate itself, and therefore it's supporters, from as much unpleasantness as possible.
Thus far, all but the most mealy-mouthed detractors, would have to say that Brendan Rodgers, ably backed by the drollery and firm stance of John Henry, has plotted a fairly steady (sorry) course. His tone has been firm and his newly enhanced mouth has spoken about the importance of the club over the individual. It is interesting that initially, before the striker spelled out his desire to move to Arsenal, the Northern Irishman's attitude was less pugnacious and more conciliatory. He clearly feels personally betrayed and hurt by Suarez's desire to defect, after a season spent extolling his decency as a man, in the face of some damning evidence to the contrary. That is understandable.
After the defeat to Celtic in Dublin on Saturday, Rodgers was maintaining a strong line on how the club will resolve the unsavoury scenario.
"It's something that we have to do everything we can to fix," the manager offered. "There has been a lot said and a lot reported and we have made a stance, as a club and as a manager, of the commitment and the standards required. If you don't have that commitment and those standards, then you won't play. It's as simple as that."
What has been interesting, is to see the extent to which some fans dislike, or are wary of, the manager. In a situation where Suarez was clearly agitating for a move and revealing all the lies he had spewed about his motivation for leaving Liverpool, -- it was that nasty media wot done it -- many fans chose to focus on Rodgers and his part in the whole sorry mess. Had he lied to poor, put-upon Luis? It was a peculiar, if understandable way to view the farrago and betrayed how tough a job the Liverpool manager truly has. Even when he's not the bad guy, he's the bad guy.
Where this all goes next is what matters. On a day when there are encouraging rumblings about an exit to
Liverpool Retirement Home West Ham for Stewart Downing and a possible new arrival in the shape of Guilherme Sequeira, it's easy to see how the mood at the club can change almost instantly. Liverpool need to hold their nerve and resign themselves to the possibility of an unhappy superstar in their ranks, for another five months at least. With the likes of Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom creating disciplinary headaches for the manager, he will have plenty to occupy him, as he waits for Suarez to pick up all the toys he's thrown out of the pram.
Should he still be resident at Melwood after the window shuts, Suarez will have little choice but to focus on getting back into the fold until January. Arsene Wenger and the witches over at the Emirates may well be trying to manipulate him still, but with a World Cup ahead and an ambition to play Champions League football gnawing at him, the striker will likely choose to go out fighting, just as Shakespeare's Scottish king did. This may well be to Liverpool's benefit and is probably the best-case scenario, given the current impasse. There will be few left who will weep, however, when Suarez finally meets his Macduff.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm due for a celery smoothie and an anxiety attack. Healthy living is the worst.