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 Red11 REDitorial

DROPS OF JUPITER - by mufcjr
Published: 17 DEC 2012

In February 2001 an American rock group 'train' released a song called
'drops of Jupiter'. In the song the writer is trying
to show the subject of his song what the world would be like without their
relationship. One of the lines of the song is
'Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken Your best friend always
sticking up for you even when I know you're
wrong'. Leaving aside the reference to deep fried chicken, one could be
forgiven for thinking that Kenny Dalglish himself
wrote these lyrics about Luis Suarez.

The pantomime that was played out at Old Trafford last Saturday effectively
helped bring an end to a turbulent four months
for Liverpool FC. Many people have had their say on what happened with
Twitter and Facebook being used to make some very
good points and some downright nasty ones about the episode. I have to
wonder though has reality dawned on Liverpool FC,
it's fans and on Suarez/Dalglish themselves that it need never have got as
far as it did if Suarez and his club just
accepted the punishment that was handed to them by an independent committee
in the first place?

The game between the two sides at Anfield in October passed off relatively
incident free with the result being a share of
the spoils. Patrice Evra later claimed that Luis Suarez racially abused him
ten times during the game. On November 16th
2011 Luis Suarez was charged with racially abusing Evra. At no point did
Liverpool FC or Suarez make any counter claim that Evra had
abused Suarez. After an independent three man committee heard evidence from
both sides between December 14-20, Suarez was
banned for 8 games and fined £40,000. Both men admitted to using abusive
terms and certainly Evra's testimony did not try
to portray himself as some sort of angel, but the difference was that
Suarez abuse consisted of terms that are racially
offensive in the UK, where the game was played. The reaction to this ban
could hardly have been predicted.

A well orchestrated campaign then followed where attempts were made to
discredit Patrice Evra or anyone else who seemed to
question Suarez in any way. At Old Trafford the silence was deafening. The
club had backed Evra in his quest to see this
racial abuse punished, but had done nothing else. It went on public record
that Evra had also said nasty things to Suarez
which if Suarez/Liverpool took a case against him, might have seen Evra
punished. But instead of doing that, the campaign
to discredit Evra went into full swing. His behaviour at the World Cup in
2010 was questioned as was his behaviour in an
incident at the end of a game at Stamford Bridge in 2008, where United
assistant Manager Mike Phelan claimed a Chelsea
groundsman had referred to Evra as 'an Immigrant'. The fact that it was not
Evra who made the claim was forgotten. Other
incidents too were referred to, but in terms of the racial abuse case none
of this was relevant. Luis Suarez had been at
the World Cup in 2010 also and has had incidents in his past. There was no
relevance in any of this to the racial abuse case, yet
the discrediting of Evra continued unabated. He has been referred to as
being ‘not a nice man’ & his character has been questioned.
But does this give anyone the right to racially abuse him? In my opinion,

Since the committe's finding against Suarez, many people have been deemed
wrong by Dalglish, Suarez and Liverpool's fans
Times journalist Tony Evans, who is from Liverpool wrote an article in
which he expressed an opinion that the evidence
heard by the committee suggested Suarez was guilty. Tony Evans received
many abusive tweets from Liverpool fans
for this article. The media in general have been accused of a witch hunt to
remove Suarez from English football. This in my
opinion was a very strange claim as it was Liverpool who were happy to
allow their players wear T-shirts defending Suarez
when they played Wigan at the JJB stadium on December 21. If the game had
been at Anfield, maybe they could have been
forgiven for doing this and just given an interview to www.liverpoolfc.tv but
no, this game was on an opponent’s ground and
Dalglish was happy to speak to the assembled media after the game. There
were no complaints either when ITV showed Luis
Suarez rather frequently when Liverpool beat Manchester United in the FA
Cup clash at Anfield at the end of January.
Clearly, the Liverpool stance on the media with hunt was a pretty selective

The stance of Kenny Dalglish in all of this has been curiously wide of the
mark. After the Wigan game he commented:"I think
the boys showed their respect and admiration for Luis. It is a great
reflection of the man as a character, a person and a
footballer that the boys have been so supportive and so have the
supporters. He has earned that, has deserved it and we
will always stand beside him. They will not divide the football club, no
matter how hard they try." I wonder did Dalglish
at any stage realise the point of the debate? The central issue was that it
is not acceptable for one player to racially
abuse another one on a football field or in any walk of life. Dalglish's
reference to 'they' dividing the club suggests the
central crux of the argument was lost on a manager who had spent twenty
years away from the club where he is adored. So
instead of putting the matter to bed all Dalglish did was add fuel to the
fire that raged up until last Sunday. He gave his
backing to the wearing of T-shirts in support of Suarez which was poor
judgment. In an interview at the end of a recent
game, Dalglish without even being prompted re-iterated his stance that
Suarez had done nothing wrong. All the time what
Dalglish failed to grasp was that although most football fans (including
Manchester United fans) do not think Dalglish is a
racist, giving his absolute backing to a player found guilty of racially
abusing another professional portrays a poor
image in today's football. We have seen a pundit sacked for using language
similar to that which Suarez is alleged to have
used, when he thought he was off-air. Dalglish had several chances to put
things right, nip them in the bud but he chose to
keep going. That was his choice.

Suarez himself comes out with very little credit in all of this. He showed
how good a footballer he can be when his
performance last season helped Liverpool beat Manchester United 3-0 at
Anfield. On that day he was simply unplayable, with
United's defenders unable to deal with him. Then there is this other side
of him. He has had incidents from his past too,
but to bring those up would be unfair to him, he needs to be judged on his
time in English football so far. He was found
guilty by an independent committee of racially abusing Evra. He claimed
that the words he had used were not deemed as
offensive in Uruguay. Had Suarez bothered to do any research before his
hearing he would have known that Diego Forlan had
played for Manchester United for three seasons without the slightest
suggestion of ever racially abusing, or being racially
abused by, another player. Indeed both clubs have had South American
players pull on their shirts in recent times without
there ever being a problem, until October 15th. Then after Dalglish had
defended Suarez to the hilt, Suarez told Dalglish
that he would shake Patrice Evra's hand in last Saturday's Premiership
game. When the moment came, he did not. Here was a
man who had compromised his own position as Manager of Liverpool to defend
Suarez and this was how Suarez repaid him.
If Suarez could do this to his Manager and his club, is it not beyond the
realms of possibility to believe that in the heat of a
Liverpool/United game that he could racially abuse another player? Not only
did he fail to shake Evra's hand but he then at
half time in the game he kicked a ball towards the Old Trafford crowd. It's
important not to be two faced here; I have seen
Rio Ferdinand kick a ball away in sheer frustration because of a refereeing
decision & hit a fan with it (March 2007). Rio's reaction
was to run to the fan & apologise immediately and seek her out after the
game to give her his shirt. Suarez reaction was to
say nothing & walk towards the dressing room.

And what of the Liverpool fans in all of this? The rivalry between both
sets of fans is sometimes nasty, singing awful
songs about tragedies at each other's clubs. But some of the behaviour from
the Liverpool fans leaves a lot to be desired.
As I have said previously, anyone not in support of Suarez has been
discredited and proverbially shot down in a very
organised fashion. In a quick thought I can come up with the following list
of people that Liverpool's fans & Manager have
attempted to discredit in all of this: Patrice Evra, Alex Ferguson, the
media, the three man committee who heard evidence
from both players, Manchester United FC, the English FA, professional
lipreaders, Geoff shreeves, Sky, Tony Evans, the
British public (for not realising the words that Suarez used had a friendly
meaning in Uruguay!) and worst of all Stan
Collymore. The abuse that Collymore, a former Liverpool player took on
twitter was nothing short of disgusting. The result
of it all was that Collymore, who suffers from depression announced at the
weekend shortly after the apologies from
Liverpool FC, that he was taking an extended break from the social media
forum. Some Liverpool fans even thought that the
best way to support Suarez was to racially abuse other people via Social
networking and at games. Thankfully the Police
have dealt with matters in both cases which sends out a clear message - it
is not OK to racially abuse anyone. If
Dalglish had not defended Suarez so vehemently and just accepted the FA's
ruling, would we all not be better off now?

So what if anything have us Manchester United fans and Manchester United as
a club learned in all of this? Firstly, I'm
proud of the dignified silence our club showed in allowing the committee
and the FA to hear the evidence from both sides in
this case. When the verdict was announced, again our club remained silent.
When we lost 2-1 in the FA Cup at Anfield we
accepted the defeat and prepared for the upcoming Premiership game and up
until last Saturday there was hardly a murmur
from Old Trafford on the issue. Rio Ferdinand chose not to shake Suarez'
hand and later admitted it was because Suarez did
not shake Evra's hand. It was a reaction that said everything that needed
to be said and it was heartwarming to see both
Evra & Ferdinand celebrate so much after the game. But one thing stood out
for me all through the game. Liverpool played
with a burden on their shoulders all through the match. United played
football. You could say Liverpool played the occasion
but how much of that was down to their own behaviour? What we could have
done better was to win with a bit more class.
There was no need for Evra to stir up the Stretford End after the match.
His emotions got the better of him, but hopefully
he will learn from all of this. Alex Ferguson went a little too far saying
that Suarez should never play for Liverpool
again - that is a decision for Liverpool to make, not Manchester United,
but you do get the sense that Suarez behaviour
would not be tolerated if he played for Manchester United. One other thing
I would love to see our fans do is to stop singing songs
referring to tragedies from Liverpool FC’s history. I know this is
difficult when the away fans are doing the exact same thing to us
but we need to rise above it. Our club has pioneered certain visions that
have helped to shape football going forward: We entered
the European Cup when the English FA did not want us to. We pioneered the
promotion of young players to the first team when
it was unfashionable to do so and we gave a young manager with new ideas
time to build the current dynasty that is our club. Surely
it is not too much to ask our fans to stop singing songs about people from
Liverpool FC who have died and instead put the efforts
into helping our team beat Liverpool on the pitch?

Finally, leadership at Liverpool FC has been shown by their owner John
Henry. After headlines from the game appeared in the
New York media it became clear to the owner that the Liverpool brand was
being seen in toxic terms. Not for one second
do I think Liverpool FC are a racist club as they have too rich a history
of players from all over the world to be thought
of as racist. But when their player was found guilty of racial abuse and
then their fans, players and manager defend him
unconditionally, the problem snowballed to the point of three
representatives of the club apologising on Sunday last. Ayres,
Dalglish and Suarez all went public to issue apologies for various things
which was better late than never but again, if
the decision to ban Suarez had been accepted last December would there have
been any need for all of this? Even since the
non-handshake, Liverpool have defended the indefensible. There have been
suggestions from their fans that these handshakes
are farcical. That's a fair comment to make, but both clubs had the
opportunity to request that the pre-match handshake be
cancelled, but neither did. Both Dalglish and Suarez knew this the onus on
them was to behave like proper sportsmen.
Instead Suarez chose not to shake Evra's hand in front of millions of
viewers and put himself before his manager, Liverpool FC
and the game of football. Then Dalglish reacted badly in his post match
interview. The attempt to deflect away from the non-handshake
and suggest the days problems were down to Sky being a 24 hour news channel
showed an alarming willingness to push the boundaries
of who could now be blamed for Suarez behaviour. Dalglish's whole body
language was that of a defensive man and claiming that the
interviewer, Geoff Shreeves was 'out of order' for his line of questioning
just adds weight to the idea that Suarez/Dalglish felt they were
both above questioning. Alex Ferguson was asked exactly the same questions
as Dalglish was, but his tone was more of a man at ease
happy that his player & club had behaved reasonably well. Clearly the
hierarchy at Liverpool FC have told Suarez/Dalglish that their
behaviour was no longer acceptable.

As commentators the world over began to digest the ramifications of last
weekend's clash some tired analysis was trotted
out. I have seen people make reference to Daglish being 'just like Alex
Ferguson always defending their players'. Reference
has been made to Cantona's ban for the Kung Fu kick on Matthew Timmons in
January 1995 and Rio Ferdinand's ban for missing
a drugs test in September 2003 and how Ferguson defended both. What the
lazy analysts forget is that after Cantona's kick
on the fan, Manchester United banned him for four months until the end of
the season. The only thing United objected to was
the English FA extending the ban, however the extended ban was not
appealed. Cantona completed his community service and
returned without any repeat of the behaviour that saw him leap into the
Selhurst stand. When Rio Ferdinand was banned for
eight months, club Solicitor Maurice Watkins read out a statement saying
the ban was 'savage and unprecedented'. He was
correct on both counts. In both cases no players or staff at Old Trafford
wore T-shirts in favour of Cantona or Ferdinand and in both
cases Manchester United accepted the bans. In more recent times, Manchester
City  who do not have the same history of
success as Liverpool, nor do they have an icon as their manager like
Dalglish is to Liverpool, have accepted bans to Kolo
Toure (banned substances) and Vincent Kompany (a tackle in the City/United
FA Cup game). If Manchester United and Manchester
City for example can both accept bans like this, then surely Liverpool can

Sadly, I doubt that this end to the current Manchester United/Liverpool and
Evra/Suarez saga has made all Liverpool fans
stop and think that change might be needed. Looking at websites like
anfieldroad.com sees articles being written where the
aim of the writing seems to be to continue to avoid the issue that one
player was found guilty of racially abusing another.

 As I flicked through one article this sentence caught my eye, describing
the current day football as 'a regularly depressing
game watched, played, run and reported on by far too large a proportion of
selfish individuals. Respect in football is as fake
as the outrage from the hacks who change their principles every time
there’s a new line to go for to earn their crust'.
After the apologies from Liverpool FC which were accepted by Manchester
United FC, the author seems to suggest that respect
is gone from the game completely. I don't think it is. When one player was
racially abused by another but is still willing to shake his hand,
then I feel respect is still alive. The article goes on to say 'Whatever
really went on between Evra and Suárez, there
still isn’t enough evidence to be completely certain. That’s something
that’s been discussed at length by numerous people –
and of course ignored by those who don’t like to sully their agenda with
truth or questions about what the truth might be.'
So in essence, what this article is saying is that even an independent
commission’s findings are not acceptable to Liverpool
fans, even when the offending player and Manager have apologised for their
actions. At some point in all our lives we all have to
admit that something we did was our fault, not anyone else’s and we have to
take responsibility for our actions.

There are some things in life where the pursuit of the truth is worthwhile
and worth using your energy on. For Liverpool FC,
this is not one of them. Due process has been followed and refusal to
accept anything other than your version as 'the
truth' in this case, could be damaging to other more worthwhile
causes. Consistently assertion that ‘the truth will come out’ in
the Suarez/Evra case only seeks to imply a notion of victim status for
Suarez. He is not a victim and Liverpool FC have far
more pressing matters for which they need justice on. For Manchester
United, I am proud of how our club has conducted itself in
all of this. But of course we can always do better, let’s learn from this &
move on.