Why Suarez should feel ashamed for damaging not just Liverpool FC, but Kenny Dalglish too
Kenny Dalglish sits alongside Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley in the holy trinity of Anfield folklore.
He is a true Liverpool great, and more importantly, a true football great, who transcends tribal rivalry to leave an enduring imprint on the history of the entire game. So to see that reputation sullied by one misguided individual is a tragedy for not just Dalglish himself, but football too.
If you are a Liverpool fan this morning, then you should be disgusted your manager has been let down in this way, that his legend of more than 40 years in the making is in danger of being so badly damaged, because I can tell you categorically, that’s exactly how he feels today.
He backed Luis Suarez unequivocally. He invested a faith and support in the striker that went way beyond the call of duty, because he wanted to believe in the young man, and wanted to extend that sense of community and belonging that is so great about Liverpool Football Club.
For all the rights and wrongs of his stance during the Suarez affair – and we have made clear at length in this column the feeling he got it badly wrong - Dalglish always believed passionately he was doing it for the right reasons.
In return, he has been turned over, embarrassed, and left exposed to a vitriol and condemnation a football man like him doesn’t deserve. And for all those Liverpool fans in denial over this (of which there clearly are many) Kenny feels that way too.
On Wednesday of last week, Dalglish chatted with Suarez in his office about the upcoming game at Old Trafford and the issues involved. He asked the striker about the handshake, and the reply was clear: Suarez would do it.
Dalglish told Suarez the club would issue a statement saying there would be a handshake and even checked to see if the player was comfortable with that, and again, the reply was in the affirmative.
So Suarez lied to Dalglish. With that knowledge in mind, it is now easier to see why the Reds boss reacted as he did when asked by Sky afterwards about the refusal to shake hands.
In his mind, when Suarez had said he would definitely be shaking hands, he took that at face value. When Dalglish replied, in a confused state at what happened: “that’s contrary to what I was told” about the lack of a handshake, he meant simply the player had told him it would happen.
Clearly the Liverpool manager found it hard to accept it didn’t happen, especially when Suarez then tried to imply it was Evra who had withdrawn the hand. Only later, when he got home and watched the coverage of the incident, did Dalglish realise just how much he had been betrayed, and just how foolish he has been made to look.
The Anfield boss is fiercely loyal – to a fault, obviously – and believes passionately in protecting his club at all costs. Yet he is not a man to cross, not in any way. And now Suarez has crossed him, lied to him, and sullied the reputation of Liverpool Football Club, then there can be no long term future for the player on Merseyside.
There is a reference in Suarez’s apology today to “what the club stands for”, and his betrayal of that history, that tradition and everything that Liverpool FC really does stand for has probably already determined his fate.
The club’s owners, when they arrived more than a year ago, wisely deferred to the club’s culture and the traditions that have developed over more than a century. They were attracted by the morality that has underpinned much of that rich history.
They have reached a point where they realise that very same club is being portrayed almost worldwide as immoral, in defending the indefensible. Suarez, with his embarrassing, puerile actions on Saturday, merely confirmed that feeling.
Let’s be blunt about this, John Henry and Tom Werner know their investment is at stake here. You can’t sell a brand in Africa and Asia if you are perceived to be condoning racism in any way.
Let’s also be real about this. Kenny Dalglish’s reputation has been built up over 35 years of connection with Liverpool. The club itself has built an almost unrivalled reputation over 120 years of glorious history.
Luis Suarez has been at Anfield for little more than a single year. And no doubt like just about every other modern day footballer, if he gets a better offer, then he will be off. It is a fact of modern football life.
So quite how such a transient, fleeting, unreliable figure in such a long, unique history can have been allowed such a massive influence on it - and on people far more important to that history – will forever be a mystery to me.
Whether you believe or not he did or didn’t racially abuse Patrice Evra (and he seemed to admit rather casually he did in an interview with Uruguayan radio in midweek), you can not deny his latest actions have damaged the very fabric of Liverpool Football Club, and of their illustrious, legendary manager. And for that, he should be ashamed.