|Luis Suarez of Liverpool|
A strange weekend for those of us who follow the beautiful game with a passion bordering on the romantic as Manchester United lifted another league title, Alex Ferguson defied his age, Robin Van Persie scored an incredible goal and Luis Suarez defiled his sport. Again.
So let’s start with the action at Anfield on Sunday where Liverpool came from behind to snatch a 2-1 draw courtesy of the Uruguayan striker Suarez, a contender for player of the year in the Premier League this season.
Suarez popped up with a clinical header right at the death to snatch a point for Liverpool and dent Chelsea’s Champions League hopes for next season.
The goal typified everything that is good about Suarez. His competitive nature ensured he was fighting until the final whistle on Sunday.
His sense of positioning had him in the right place at the right time. His instinct got his head onto the ball at just the right moment to steer it past Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal.
That header should have been the only reason to remember Luis Suarez for his contribution to the Reds vs. Blues clash on Merseyside. Instead it was long forgotten by the time the final whistle blew – seconds later!
The abiding memory of Suarez’s Sunday will revolve around his decision to bite the Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic after he was held back as they contested a ball inside the box.
The referee didn’t see the bite so there was nothing he could do about it when Ivanovic and the goalkeeper Petr Cech complained.
But this is the modern age – and television caught it all.
Within seconds Sky TV were replaying the incident. Within minutes it was all over Twitter and all over the world.
The pathetic actions of the Liverpool player were rightly exposed for all to see. And now it gets interesting.
On Sunday night his employers fined Suarez and his manager insisted no player is bigger than the club. On Monday, the FA charged him with violent conduct and admitted that the regulation three game ban isn’t sufficient in these circumstances.
The same day, Liverpool announced they have no inclination to sell him before his contract expires three years from now.
Ivanovic declined the offer to press charges. And the players’ union offered Suarez an anger management course. Sad.
Luis Suarez has been an accident waiting to happen for years. He bit another player during his time at Ajax.
He deliberately handled the ball on the line during a World Cup quarterfinal against Ghana in South Africa. And he racially abused Patrice Evra last season.
Sure, he is a great player, a really great player as his goal proved again on Sunday. But he is no role model. He is no character for kids to reference.
Contrast his demeanor on Sunday with the magnificence of Robin Van Persie as Manchester United clinched a 20th English title with a 3-0 win over the struggling Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
United won thanks to a hat-trick from Van Persie -- no saint in his time by the way -- and the second goal was quite something to behold as he volleyed a brilliant pass from Wayne Rooney past a helpless Brad Guzan.
That goal alone would make it a memorable season for the Dutchman, but the sheer joy on his face when he was interviewed after the first league medal of his career proved why football is the beautiful game.
So did the spring in Alex Ferguson’s step after his 38th trophy as Manchester United manager. Now in his 71st year, Fergie offered no hint at retirement as Old Trafford applauded their heroes.
Instead he joked, “Look at me – it’s taken 10 years off me today. It’s these tablets, they’re great!”
Asked about Van Persie’s stunning second goal, he said, “It’s the goal of the century for me. It was a marvelous hit, head down, over the ball, perfect timing -- a magnificent strike.”
Ferguson’s exuberance and Van Persie’s happiness were in such contrast to the actions of Suarez on our television screens just over 24 hours earlier.
The Scot was a man without a care in the world on Monday night, but he will have empathized with his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rogers on Sunday evening.