The impact of a simple tweet:
Confession: it was a lot easier to just hate Suarez.
Fuck, it was a godsend to see news of him wanting out. I remember last spring, the week after he lashed his teeth into Ivanovich’s bicep, sitting in my car with Yachtsman on the other line, trying to rationalize every argument and scenario that would make me feel better about the implications of what I had seen.
“This season is lost anyway, I don’t care.”
“Whatever, the FA is garbage. Jermaine Defoe didn’t get suspended for biting a dude! The FA hates Liverpool!”
“He’ll be back, he’ll get better. He has to right?”
“I mean, we could sell him.”
It didn't seem possible then that another club would want his baggage – delightful scoring touch aside – for even £20 million. LFC bought him for £26.6, but whatever, he’s worth less now, I reasoned. Sure, he is more prolific now than we dreamed him to be, but we don’t want this, I said.
A club I so desperately wanted – and still want – to believe strives for a higher standard of sport, was shedding an undisputed bad seed; this idealism for Liverpool and Anfield and the Shankly Gates rooted in a nostalgia for the times when my Reds played a joyous game and made my heart soar.
It was a sort of pathetic hope, despite the joy that Suarez brought me and other fans as he fought for our club, for a sense of purpose that could sustain beleaguered fans who've seen the club through ultimate success and bankruptcy and the bottom of the table and a palpable fear of relegation. Supporters patiently await a return to glory that simply may never come, and the belief in the sanctity of our club is one of the biggest things that makes that reality bearable.
The prospect of Suarez leaving allowed me to hate the man as others do; to finally say out loud that I find him reprehensible and disgusting and bad for Liverpool. It was a relief to finally agree with those who looked at Liverpool’s continuing support of Suarez as a fool’s errand. I had the freedom to believe that since the prospect of him suiting up in Red seemed infinitesimal.
Finally, I could hate him because he was rejecting his supporters and his club after we all stood behind him, inexplicably.
But what now?
How can I rationalize the sudden change of circumstances such that, if Suarez does take the pitch for LFC again – as seems likely at the moment – I can feel right cheering for him as I will inevitably do?
The whole situation seems foolishly overstated and attached to arguably unwarranted emotions – it is just sports, after all; it shouldn't be this complicated. Yet there is a feeling I can’t shake: that choosing sides here is inescapable and that I need to get right with the idea of willfully supporting a guy who was just last week firmly categorized in my mind as a racist, biting sociopath who had the fucking temerity to turn his back on my club.
Forgotten in all of the hand-wringing and head-shaking over how to reconcile our beloved club with a guy as curiously insane as Suarez is the beauty he has brought to Anfield. The beauty that isn't about trophies or wins or placing us back in a heralded class of the world's best football clubs.
The losing these past few years had been unbearable, and it’s continued even with Luis on the pitch. But for all of the disappointment, that restoring sense of club pride and sanctity is not an end onto itself. It has sprung forth through years of quality. Of beautiful moments between those white lines. Moments like Suarez has given us.
This is how it gets right. He plays. He amazes. He finds ways to carry us on his back again, and through it, he restores.
Suarez has torn my club into pieces, at times, but he can easily put it back together with a flick of his boot.