‘Does your dog bite?’ asks Peter Sellers in his Pink Panther role as Chief Inspector Clouseau ‘No’ replies the innkeeper played by Graham Stark. Dog duly bites our defective detective.
‘I thought you said your dog didn’t bite’ (Sellers)
‘It’s not my dog’ (Stark)
Since the Luis Suárez biting incident, just for a moment Liverpool FC, might have wished he did not belong to them but he does and they have no intention of getting rid of him. Did anyone really think they would? Had he been a Man United player, would they have given him the sack? Would Sir Alex have pointed to the door like a Victorian father to an erring offspring? Of course not. Think Eric Cantona.
Suarez has been Liverpool’s best player by a street this season. All right, he is a problem, but anyone who read the account of his childhood in a Montevideo barrio this week might have understood he would not escape that environment entirely unhindered by the odd character flaw. It could have been a lot worse. He could have been planting bombs.
Liverpool will dock him a few quid and the Football Association’s sanction will mean that the club will be doing without his services for the remaining games this season, which will not mean much, but also for six games at the beginning of next season, which is much more damaging to the club. If he stays I expect the psychologists will pop him on the couch for a few sessions too. There were of course calls for Suarez to be sacked, for a ban sine die, even Mr Cameron got involved. Good job the country has no other problems to concentrate.
Of course I watched the biting incident last weekend but I did not leap out of the chair and the referee did not appear to have seen it.
But this is where trial by television came in. Close-up replays with super slow-motion left us all in no doubt what had happened. I think the radio commentator on the match did not react vehemently until he saw the replays on his monitor. Suddenly we became a nation of critics that made Judge Jeffreys seem like a liberal.
What the cameras failed to show us was the actual injury to the Ivanovic arm. The main reason being that if there was one, it was so minor as not to be visible. A friend’s ageing terrier would have done more damage and she has no teeth left.
If the above inclines you to think I am in any way condoning what Suarez did, I promise you I am not, I am merely endeavouring to put the matter in perspective.
It is a shame of course that this most gifted of players has a character flaw that constantly detracts from his wonderful skills. I actually enjoy watching him play even more than Van Persie, and I have no commitment to either of their clubs.