Kenny Dalglish and Luis Suárez finally make the right decision
Luis Suárez's apology, which received the backing of Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, shows common sense has prevailed
Luis Suárez and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish have finally made the right call by apologising after the Uruguayan refused to shake Patrice Evra’s hand before Saturday’s match at Old Trafford.
On a day when both parties hoped the controversy which has surrounded the pair would come to an end, the South American striker fanned the flames by refusing to shake hands with the United skipper.
It was a shocking moment, particularly after Dalglish declared in midweek that Suárez had been told to participate in the pre-match ritual.
“People are already speculating on the pre-match ceremony, but from Luis’ point of view we have spoken to him and I know he will shake the hand of Patrice Evra and the other Manchester United players before the game,” Daglish said on Wednesday.
Following the tempestuous north west derby, the Liverpool manager has been hit by a fresh wave of criticism after his emotional post-match interview with Sky Sports. His dignity, held in such high regard by the football community, is now being called into question.
But the 60-year-old, who guided Liverpool through troubled times after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, was severely let down by Suárez, who showed little appreciation for his manager’s unequivocal support for him over a troubled three months.
Former Liverpool midfielder John Barnes, a victim of racist abuse during the 1980s, believes Suárez should not have been put in the compromising position, if he had communicated his unwillingness to shake Evra’s hand.
“I can’t imagine that this wasn’t discussed by Liverpool. If Luis Suárez said, ‘I’m not shaking his hand’, which he has every right to if he doesn’t want to, then Liverpool should have made all attempts not to have this situation whereby they have to come into confrontation with each other,” said Barnes.
It is clear that Suárez still feels aggrieved by the Football Association’s punishment – the governing body handed the 25-year-old with an eight-game ban and £40,000 fine for racially abusing Evra.
Rightly or wrongly, it appears the former Ajax captain considered himself to be the victim in this unsavoury affair.
And, if this is the case, then perhaps understandably he was uncomfortable shaking the hand of the man who is the cause of relentless scrutiny from the football world, which the South American continues to be subjected to.
But the pre-match handshake is an issue which, judging by Dalglish’s statement on Wednesday, had been discussed by the player and the club, and therefore by blanking Evra’s attempt at making peace he undermined the stance of his employers. It needed to be done for the good of the game.
Perhaps the most accurate reflection came from former Liverpool defender and Match of the Day pundit, Alan Hansen, on Saturday.
“The rhetoric from both clubs before the game was restraint. Liverpool said there would be a handshake, so for Suárez to snub Evra is totally unacceptable,” said Hansen.
“Liverpool have given Suárez total support through thick and thin and I think he’s let Kenny down, he’s let the club down and he’s let himself down.”
Sir Alex Ferguson called on Liverpool to sell the Copa America winner in the aftermath of Saturday’s game, and while that is unlikely to happen, Dalglish could no longer defend the indefensible.
“To be honest, I was shocked to hear that the player had not shaken hands having been told earlier in the week that he would do,” Dalglish said in a statement on Liverpool’s website.
“All of us have a responsibility to represent this Club in a fit and proper manner and that applies equally to me as Liverpool manager.
“When I went on TV after yesterday’s game I hadn’t seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologise for that.”