In his post match interview on MOTD 2 last night following Stoke’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool, Tony Pulis reckoned that Luis Suarez should be banned for three games to stop him diving, after he fell over following 70 minutes of rough housing from a Stoke team that would be considered filth in a Sunday League.
As a Liverpool fan, I winced when Suarez hopped in the box in an attempt to win a penalty, but not as much as he did after Robert Huth had variously tried to break him in half with a stamp from his size 18s, decimate his ankle with a crude challenge and tear his shirt off his back. So for Tony Pulis to stand there, indignant, without any hint of irony and have a pop at Suarez without even recognizing Huth’s behaviour (Stoke were unlucky to receive six bookings and a £25k fine apparently) is nothing short of a disgrace.
I’m all for physicality in the game, and am not sat here saying that teams have to play one way. Pulis has done well to make Stoke a fixture in the Premier League, but the way his team went out to smash into Liverpool’s physically inferior players was hideous. A hard challenge is one thing, vindictive violence to intimidate and injure is another entirely.
Of course, the neutral on social networking sites were more concerned with Suarez than they were Huth. In yet another Twitter Salem witch trial Suarez was vilified, hung, drawn and quartered and banned, the only mention of Huth’s thuggery was that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ No, they don’t, but come on, is diving to try and win a penalty really in the same league as trying to kick someone out of the game? Is a split second conniving decision really as bad as continual pre-meditated filth?
I winced when Suarez hopped in the box in an attempt to win a penalty, but not as much as he did after Robert Huth had variously tried to break him in half with a stamp from his size 18s
Of course it isn’t. Only in this skewed English macho nonsense are they seen as one and the same. Twisted neutrals see alehouse antics on the biggest stage as somehow representing a bit of the old Corinthian, hard but fair and all that crap. On the other side, the South American celebration of a ‘malandro’, essentially someone who shows extreme cunning, is to my mind similarly skewed but far less dangerous.
The problem Suarez faces is that he is damned whatever he does. Would you, seriously, continue to play with a smile on your face and without retaliation for 75 minutes after being subjected to what would pass as assault in the street? If you were facing a man twice your size and weight would you go toe-to-toe or look for some other way to gain an advantage? Let’s imagine Suarez had snapped and flown at the back of Huth’s Achilles with 12 studs bared, there would have been an outrage, but could anyone really have blamed him for doing so?
Tony Pulis lost any shred of respect I had for him last night, and I only hope that irrespective of whether or not Suarez does get banned (which is absolute f*cking nonsense), that Robert Huth is handed the same four game ban that Mario Balotelli, another pantomime villain that the media and fans of other clubs love to hate, was given for his stamp last year. Should he escape censure on the back of damning TV evidence then we may as well send all the flair players back whence they came, close off our football culture and all meet up to kick the pi*s out of each other every Saturday. Tony would love it.
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