There's a certain honesty that comes from mischief. We don't trust the pristine. Cristiano Ronaldo is handsome, talented, dedicated, and above all unloved. Mario Balotelli gets more adoration than an Everton loan signing. We like our angels to have dirty faces because it makes them all the more accessible; it kicks away the pedestal. What happens if you take that to its farthest reaches? Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you Luis Suarez: a man who doesn't just kick away the pedestal, he's a man who sets fire to it and puts out the blaze with his own victorious piss. What the fuck are you gonna do about it?
By demonstrating the raw determination of a born Kopite, Liverpool's little Uruguayan has not only given his fans the chance to live vicariously through him, he's also united opposition supporters in hatred. It's given Liverpool fans a flag round which to rally. So, thanks for that: we needed it. And it's a proper flag at that, not one of those placcy ones the cockneys use to plug the gaping emptiness that comes from being a Billionaire's wank sock. It's like family: nothing gets a warring family together like an outside threat. 'Nobody calls my brother an arsehole but me!'
And so Luis Suarez has fought off everything from Gollum's meanest stare to Ferguson's bottle-bank. The apologist Premier League currently finds itself in the precarious position of the wide-eyed Big Game Hunter who, having just missed the onrushing beast with his last poison dart, quietly evacuates into his own pants. The gnashing teeth and guttural roars as Luis Suarez hurtles towards them is what will now be their last rites. Are you happy now David Moyes? How about you Mr Ferguson?
Suarez is a lesson in the dangers of building man into monster. Hannibal Lecter could give the Nevilles' midwife nightmares in that mask, but stick a pink bow on him and all you have is 'The Silence of Bo Peep'. Here the Premier League has a beast at least partly of their own making, through continued and overt demonization. They say 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', and Luis Suarez has faced hook, crook and book in England. But Luis isn't just alive, he's mutated into something more dangerous: Frankenstein's monster; a Uruguayan Werewolf in Liverpool; the big 'FUCK YOU!'
It should have all been so different. An eight match ban for racism was supposed to be the silver bullet. Above and beyond games missed, I remember claims that the incident highlighted 'the very worst of football Tribalism'. One man's ban apparently became the battle between good and evil. And so, watching England flap to a 4-2 defeat against Sweden, I thought of the delicious irony of how someone like Suarez could restore England's International lustre! How England could do with their own Pantomime Villain to add some umph.
International football in this country was already circling the toilet bowl by the time Michael Owen sold his soul to 'Ingerlund', so it's not just Liverpool fans who became increasingly unlikely to put up the St George bunting. National pride is the stuff of Churchill, of missed penalties and Gazza's tears, not midweek jaunts to give every man and his cat an England Cap in 'Meaningless Friendly 502'. When 'El Pistolero' was pilloried in the English media- and football in general- for being a 'racist', his Uruguyan countrymen closed ranks and stood shoulder to shoulder with him. When Suarez was accused of being a 'diver' by FIFA Vice-President Jim Boyce, the Uruguayan FA wrote to FIFA in a manner that can only be described as designed to make sphincters quiver. A big fuck-off handbook on how to rehabilitate the cowardly Three Lions lives and breaths in the never-say-die attitude of Luis Suarez, and yet still we form disorderly queues to feast on the entrails of our sportsmen.
England doesn't have a loveable rogue. They have a few wrong 'uns no doubt, but they're either vacuous to the point of inane or just a nasty shade of Nouveau Riche. Liverpool, however, have their first, properly mischievous little Git since Robbie Fowler was seen sniffing his way down the touchline. England never really appreciated Robbie, so there's no surprise that Suarez fails to fit the template too, and it remains to be seen what heights Suarez will soar to. How long he will stay? Part of the drama is watching a clinical trial unfold in front of us, because never before have the effects of playing every game like its your last been tested on the meager chassis of the human body. Can he last? Most players have either the talent or the attitude, Luis has an equal abundance of both. To watch Suarez is to watch inspiration grapple with perspiration like a freshly tweezed Jose Enrique in a cage match with his own sexuality.
We hope there's a good few chapters left to be written, but for now Liverpool have that cheeky goalscoring forward, around which all of the best hand-me-down stories are written. Journalists are surveying their broken greenhouses and politely asking if Luis can return stones to sender. What's great about this fella is that despite all the other bullshit in football, he makes sure there's no danger of Liverpool fans falling out of love with the game any time soon. No matter how hard the sky was falling, you'd never stop watching Robbie Fowler's Liverpool. And likewise, no matter how up the tits are, you'll never stop watching Luis Suarez' Liverpool. 'Drive fans away' my fucking arse! He has you so far off your seat you could get on the end of a Stoke through ball. Robbie Fowler will always be God, and he'll always be my hero, but -and I know pain may well follow- I think I'll tentatively announce his successor.