Suarez is poetry in motion… but can he really be Player of the Year
15:46 GMT, 21 November 2012
And the days are not full enough And the nights are not full enough And life slips by like a field mouse. Not shaking the grass. Ezra Pound wrote that. Remarkable, isn't it
'Pound is more responsible for the 20th century revolution in poetry than any other individual,' said TS Eliot, and he would know. So here's one of his lesser known works.
'You let in the Jew and the Jew rotted your empire, and you yourselves out-jewed the Jew. And the big Jew has rotted every nation he has wormed into.' Pound said that in a pro-fascist radio broadcast in March 1942. He said plenty of other stuff, too, and was arrested for treason after the war.
Saint and sinner: Luis Suarez has been accused of diving during his time at Liverpool
Later, Pound renounced his anti-Semitism in public, but recollections of the private individual tell a different story. He would refer to people he disliked as Jews, and refuse to talk to psychiatrists with Jewish names.
He really wasn't a nice guy. Doesn't make Eliot wrong, though. Doesn't make the depth of emotional meaning conveyed in the sparse four lines of And the days are not full enough – that's the whole poem up there, by the way – any less astonishing. Same with Philip Larkin.
'I can hear fat Caribbean germs pattering after me in the Underground,' he wrote, disgusted, to Kingsley Amis on a visit to London. Then again, Larkin was disgusted by a lot of things; by himself, often enough. For Larkin in excelsis, however, read An Arundel Tomb. 'What will survive of us is love.'
We could go on. Through Chuck Berry to Miles Davis or Michael Jackson. We separate the man from his art. But not in football. In football, we want it all. Beauty and the blameless life. We can accept that poets, artists, musicians or writers can be despicable creatures redeemed by their work, but from our footballers we demand the exalted physicality of an athlete and the immaculate morality of an angel.
Light and shade: The Uruguayan striker is a match-winner for Liverpool but has also been accused of stamping on an opponent (above right)
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So could Luis Suarez be the Footballer of the Year this season Of course not. Should Luis Suarez be the Footballer of the Year this season Well, who else have you got
This is a crude calculation as it presumes no other player could have scored Suarez's goals, but the difference he has made to Liverpool this season equates to seven league points and, potentially, a place in the Europa League.
Goals from Suarez have changed Liverpool's dividend on seven occasions. He has been the difference between victory and a draw with Norwich City and a draw and a defeat against Manchester City, Sunderland, Everton, Newcastle United and Chelsea.
Without his goal at Anfield, the Europa League qualifier with Hearts would have gone into extra time. And in this season's Premier League, seven points is currently separating Liverpool and a place in the bottom three.
True, if Suarez had not been in the team, somebody else would have been and that somebody might have scored, too. So this isn't exact science.
Nobody can accurately evaluate Suarez's worth to Liverpool this season but, ball-park, seven points sounds about right. Maybe more. Is there any footballer in the country more influential
Last week, Jamie Carragher compared Suarez to Lionel Messi at Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid. Indeed, he placed him higher, because Suarez is not playing in a great team. But Footballer of the Year No chance.
This is bogeyman Suarez, remember, verbal debaser of Patrice Evra, alleged diver, alleged stamper, the man English football loves to hate and boo, even during the feelgood Olympic Games this summer when just completing the course got a standing ovation.
How can he sway a vote of journalists, some of whom believe their award winner must stand out as a role model, as much as a footballer How could he earn the votes of players, some of whom are black, ethically-minded or represent Manchester United Could you vote for him No. Could I It would be very, very hard.
On target: Suarez has scored more goals than any other player in the Barclays Premier League this term
A vote for Suarez would appear to send out the message that racism doesn't matter. Yet I'd have no hesitation in referring to Larkin as our greatest modern poet; no agonising over love for the music of the wife-beating Ike Turner either.
Maybe by the end of the season the Suarez dilemma will no longer exist. Different players go through purple patches at various times – Juan Mata was brilliant for Chelsea as Roberto Di Matteo's side topped the table early on – but few have been as consistent as Suarez, with no sign of relenting.
Left to fend for himself by an almost wantonly negligent series of executive choices in the transfer market, he has prevented Liverpool entering freefall. And he is not even a conventional striker.
If Liverpool had acted with coherence this summer, Suarez would be playing beside a prolific goalscorer, setting up as many as he scores, the burden on his shoulders relieved. For Uruguay, he most regularly played alongside Diego Forlan or Sebastian Abreu. These days Edinson Cavani is his regular foil. The idea of him leading a line unaccompanied would baffle his national coach, Oscar Tabarez.
Imagine: If Suarez was Footballer of the Year, they'd be uproar, arguments and probably resignations
What he is doing at Liverpool is far removed from his comfort zone. And yet he is this season's peak performer: top scorer in the Premier League with two more goals than Robin van Persie and top scorer of any Premier League player in all club competitions, again two more than Van Persie.
The difference is, Van Persie has Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to take a load off, Suarez is in virtual isolation.
Carragher also placed Suarez alongside Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Fernando Torres among recent goalscorers at Liverpool, but in essence he is more like Steven Gerrard or Carragher himself, in his ability to influence matches sometimes with sheer will.
Yet, imagine if he was the Footballer of the Year. There would be uproar, protests, arguments, quite probably resignations. A breakaway black union without doubt, if he won the PFA vote, a very awkward few weeks for representatives of the media if he topped any poll of journalists.
Mock: Suarez celebrated in front of Moyes after the Everton boss accused him of simulation
An unrepentant horror as an example to the next generation, it would be fiendishly hard to justify his glorification, almost inexcusable. Yet is he the best player in the league This minute, by a mile.
Those crowned Footballer of the Year tend to be winners. It seemed incongruous two years ago when Scott Parker collected the prize in a season that ended in relegation for his club, West Ham United.
The case for Suarez would be different. It would be based on his contribution to a former member of the elite, Liverpool, and how far a great club might have tumbled without him.
There was certainly a similar case for Chris Waddle at Tottenham Hotspur one season, when the club could easily have slipped into the bottom three without his frequent interventions. Yet Suarez won't win and can't win, we know that.
He has been associated with too much of football's dark side – racism, simulation – to rise above the negativity. He refused to shake hands with Evra, at first, even though the wronged man made the first move, he openly mocked David Moyes when the Everton manager dared to suggest he went to ground too easily. And yet despite the opprobrium, Suarez stays strong.
If no-one likes him, see if he cares. Perhaps this is why, as well as being this season's best footballer he is also one that troubles the soul.
Suarez does not do sorry, he does not do contrition and, in this, demands to be considered only for his art. Will he care if recognition is not his at the end of the season Probably not. As Pound said on his release from a lengthy stint of hard labour: 'I've had it worse.'
Arrests: Crowd trouble in Germany is at a 12-year high
Don't mention the arrests…
And more news just in from Germany, where tickets are cheap, stadiums are full, standing is tolerated and crowd trouble is at a 12-year high.
According to figures released to Reuters in Berlin, the 2011-12 season had the highest number of criminal proceedings this century, a sharp rise in the amount of injured fans from the previous season and a 20 per cent increase in police work hours.
'Criminal proceedings are up 70 per cent, work hours up 40 per cent and injuries up 120 per cent from the 12-year average,' said a police spokesman.
A total of 8,143 criminal cases against individuals were launched compared with 5,818 the previous year, while the number of injuries rose from 843 to 1,142.
Meanwhile, according to the Home Office, English football arrests are at an all-time low since records began in 1985, and there was a 32 per cent decline in Premier League arrests from the 2010-11 season. But keep this quiet. It doesn't fit the self-flagellating narrative.
And while we're at it… Unbuyable Try to lure him back, Sir Alex!
He is back, at a football ground near you, tonight. And while Cristiano Ronaldo can be guaranteed a hostile reception when he steps out for Real Madrid against Manchester City, there will not be a true football fan in the stadium who does not feel a frisson of excitement at the anticipation of seeing him play live again.
Because we miss him, of course we do. Even the blue lot, deep down. Manchester United miss him, English football misses him. We haven't had one quite as good since. Not a player whose talent is so immense he actually found a new way of kicking a football.
Welcome (back) to Manchester: Ronaldo touched down in England ahead of Real's clash with City
Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Hydrodynamics Laboratory in Paris will test their theory about the way Ronaldo strikes his knuckleball at a scientific gathering in San Diego this week. They have been dropping steel beads into a tank of water and studying the trajectory. Nobody does that for Ashley Young.
So, when Sir Alex Ferguson says that he remains on good terms with Ronaldo but the player is 'unbuyable', the heart sinks. Try, Sir Alex. Have a go, for all of us. It doesn't matter if it makes life really hard for your rivals. We won't moan, even if you win the league by 25 points. Just get our guy back. Please.
Relationship: Ferguson has claimed the former Manchester Untied star is 'unbuyable'
Madrid is the love of Ronaldo's life, but he hasn't always felt loved back. Good. Use that. Tell him he's wasted there. Tell him the Spanish crowds have never taken to him as they have Lionel Messi. Massage his ego, play on his insecurities. Wasn't there a time when Madrid made him sad Didn't he refuse to celebrate his goals at the start of the season, because he felt unappreciated That never happened at Old Trafford, did it Hell, it's worth a try.
Unbuyable is such a miserable term. Unbuyable says he is Madrid's, for ever. Unbuyable means nights like this are one of the few chances you will get to see one of the world's greatest players at the height of his powers. If you can go, don't miss it. He's the one you'll tell the grandkids about.
Sacking Hughes might not add up
The problem for Tony Fernandes at Queens Park Rangers, and for all owners, is that the only way to build a club is to place faith in a coach and his vision. Invariably, this means an equal investment in players, staff and the remodelling of academies and training facilities.
In terms of results, there is no indication this season that Rangers are going to turn around under Mark Hughes, so continued support now is merely a leap of faith.
In training: Hughes puts his squad through their paces on Tuesday as his future hangs in the balance
Yet the alternative, to remove Hughes and his entourage and start again, is fraught with expense and difficulty with no certainty of alleviating the crisis, either. West Ham United stuck with Avram Grant and went down, West Bromwich Albion sacked Roberto Di Matteo and stayed up.
Wigan Athletic kept Roberto Martinez and stayed up, Wolverhampton Wanderers dismissed Mick McCarthy and went down. The only concrete guarantee is that the cost of replacing the manager, his backroom boys and overhauling the squad twice in one season is horrific. This alone may be what buys Hughes the time to turn Rangers around.