When you look at the league table for every division you can see that it tracks the number of wins a team has, how many goals they’ve scored and the points they have accumulated – there is no column for the way your club conducts its business or the way fans are treated. Class is not a valuable commodity.
Luis Suarez has quite clearly marked out a route for himself out of the club after his Guardian interview, claiming that promises have been broken and his manager Brendan Rodgers is a liar. No doubt he will be wearing another shirt at the beginning of the next season and Liverpool will have to reinvest his transfer fee as best they can.
You can’t blame him for trying to move. There will presumably be more money involved for him when he moves, and the Uruguayan will most likely move to a club where the chance of a league title or European glory is more likely. There is however no medal for sticking by the club which (wrongly) supported him after he racially abused Patrice Evra and were prepared to stick with him next season as he serves his ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
You also can’t blame Arsenal for trying to sign him. Wegner has had to endure the block-headed Piers Morgan-types, who call for his resignation every week for being financially prudent and investing in youth. The signing of the Liverpool striker will buy him some favour with disillusioned fans. They won’t, however, win their next trophy just because they’ve shown a fellow club respect or been quiet about the transfer.
Many are dreaming romantically of the days when players felt a loyalty to clubs, giving the impression that such a type of player was readily available before the summer began, and want away players like Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney are unpalatable anomalies. That is quite ludicrous wishful thinking.
Liverpool has been blessed with players like Gerrard and Carragher who stuck around and fought for their team, fostering a belief that those who have been supported by the Anfield fans owe some loyalty back. But even they can be guilty of lacking loyalty with the way they ousted Pepe Reina – a faithful servant of the club who was informed of his departure once it had been arranged behind his back.
The unfortunate thing is that you don’t get any points for respect, class or loyalty. Many thought Sunderland betrayed their working class fans, who had a deep rooted history in mining, by hiring the supposedly fascist Paolo Di Canio – but if Sunderland had decided to grant their fans wishes and not hire him then who would have footed the bill had they been relegated? Would those ‘same fans’ accept relegation in favour of ousting the Italian, looking back now?
Suarez has been held up as the bogeyman figure in football, symbolising the cold pragmatism with which players and club work in favour of a sporting advantage, at the expense of everything else. In truth, Suarez is just a reminder of the state the modern game has fallen into. The only shocking thing is that people keep forgetting.