Luis was wrong, but before we hound him out let's remember there have been other Liverpool legends who were not exactly saints

Before you carry on reading, it is important to make this point: this is not me trying to defend the indefensible. This is an attempt to put some perspective on the Luis Suarez saga.

It was said in the aftermath of Sunday’s game against Chelsea, firstly by Graeme Souness as he began his analysis on Sky, that nobody is bigger than the club. Others said that Liverpool should make Luis pay the heaviest penalty by getting rid of him.

Now I am not for one moment trying to sugar-coat the incident in which Luis bit Branislav Ivanovic. It was wrong on all levels. You simply don’t expect to see a grown man bite another grown man — that is behaviour you would associate with nursery school.

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I'm back: Luis Suarez returned to training today while the FA deliberated over his punishment for biting

But the way things are now being pitched is that Liverpool have got to do something about the rotten apple in their midst.

It is as if Luis is the only player to have represented Liverpool who has ever been embroiled in controversy.

That simply isn’t the case.

Tight marking: Luis Suarez and Branislav Ivanovic tussle during Sunday's match

Clash of the day: Suarez and Ivanovic get up close and personal

We have had it many times before, as have every other club in the country. I know this as I was responsible for one incident in January 2002. I threw a coin into the crowd at Highbury during an FA Cup tie against Arsenal after one had  initially been flung at me.

Souness, who was captain of Liverpool at the time, broke the jaw of Dinamo Bucharest’s Lica Movila during a European Cup semi-final in 1984 when he punched him in an off-the-ball incident.

It was a serious incident but it is one which fans and some of his old team-mates speak almost nostalgically about.

Hard man: Graeme Souness had his controversial moments at Liverpool

Sore jaw: Lica Movila was a Graeme Souness victim in the 1984 European Cup semi-final

VIDEO: Graeme Souness breaks Lica Movila's jaw in the 1984 European Cup semi-final

Robbie Fowler had his scrapes, too. There was outrage after he celebrated a goal against  Everton in April 1999 by mimicking drug taking. A couple of months earlier he was hugely condemned when he taunted Graeme Le Saux with a homophobic gesture.

Jan Molby was sent to jail in October 1988 for three months for a drink-driving offence.

More recently, Steven Gerrard appeared in court charged with affray but was subsequently found not guilty.  

Every one of the players I mention regretted what happened and Luis is the same. More importantly, the club stood by every one of them.

Standing by their men: Jan Molby spent three months in jail in 1988 for drink-driving and Steven Gerrard was in court charged with affray but was found not guilty

Luis is normally a bubbly lad around the training ground. He tends to mix mainly with the other South Americans in the group but he is well liked all around because he has a fantastic attitude to his job and just loves playing football.

'I'd rather be bitten than have my leg broken'


In my time at Liverpool, very few players have possessed an appetite to win the same as mine but Luis has got it. He trains well every day. When we get a day off, he will come in to do extra work and there is nothing arrogant or flash about him. He slots into the group without problem.

Yesterday, however, it was clear that events had taken a toll.

Luis knows he has done something seriously wrong, letting  himself down. He has been told that a repeat of such behaviour will not be tolerated and the club’s stance has been different from how it was following his altercation with Patrice Evra.

But, rather than hounding him out of the country, shouldn’t we be helping him?
We have a top psychologist in Steve Peters who comes to the club once a week and he could have as big a role as our manager, Brendan Rodgers, for Luis.

Throw-in: Jamie Carragher reacts after a fan threw a coin at him, by picking it up and throwing it back into the crowd

Crossing the line: Robbie Fowler mimics drug taking during a goal celebration

Ian Ayre has stated that the club are not looking to sell Luis. History shows that message has always been the same. What happened when Tony Adams was released from jail in February 1991 after serving a sentence for drink- driving?

He went back to captain Arsenal and won eight major  honours. Look at Eric Cantona.

Less than eight months after returning from his eight-month ban for an assault on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, he had inspired Manchester United to the Double. It is selfish but clubs need their best players.

As Martin Samuel said in his column yesterday, perhaps if a player of lesser ability had been guilty of Luis’s offence, he would have been shown the door by now. Again, a precedent at Anfield has already been set.

Kung-fu fighting: Eric Cantona jumps into the crowd and kicks Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons

During the Hillsborough memorial service in 2009, Charles Itandje and Damien Plessis were caught laughing and messing around. Itandje, a third-choice keeper with a terrible attitude, was banished immediately. Plessis, who was viewed as being a player of promise, was admonished but stayed.

Morally you could say such standards are wrong but it happens in any walk of life, not just football. If someone is exceptional at what they do, many people are prepared to put up with them regardless of the hassle they may cause. 

Hard trainer: Carragher says Luis Suarez works hard on the training ground

People may say this is a  Liverpool-biased opinion but I don’t want to see another world-class player leave the Barclays  Premier League, like Xabi Alonso, Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas have.

We are talking about one of the top five players in world football here.

Finally, I would like to finish by putting forward a thought from a footballer’s perspective about the incident.

The bite was shocking, no question, and everyone who has seen it was amazed. Yet was it worse than a challenge that could end someone’s career?

Leg break: Carragher was out for six months after breaking his leg against Blackburn following a tackle by Lucas Neill

I know what it is like to have your leg broken by a reckless tackle. Lucas Neill cost me six months of my career in September 2003 when he played for Blackburn. Would I have preferred to have been  bitten? Absolutely.

I suspect that Branislav Ivanovic, who has conducted himself with great credit in the aftermath, would agree. You can get up and carry on after a skirmish. If someone shatters your leg, you wonder whether you will play again.

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