Luis Suarez: Back to his vintage self
There was a certain movie that was released in 2005. A story about a heroic protagonist who craved to save his city wearing a black cape and mask. A person who wanted to inflict his own fears on those who were destroying his city. But apart from the black mask, the cape and the vivid inventory of gadgets, the messages conveyed by the dialogues in the movie stands as its highlights.
The movie is none other than Batman Begins. A superhero movie that conveyed some serious messages of life. The predecessor to perhaps the greatest superhero movie ever. One which incorporated the charismatic protagonist in Batman and the intellectual brilliance of Christopher Nolan. A little sequence in the movie is perhaps the best in it and it doesn’t even involve Batman in actual.
A little boy falls into a bat cave and hurts himself. When his father and valet rescue him, he is looking at his wound and shedding little tears. But his father asks him a question, one which if answered in our lifestyles in a realistic way, will redeem success.
“Why do we fall, Bruce?”
Before moving into the reply of the question. Let us move into some other aspects of life. We perform tirelessly day-in-day-out, falling down sometimes, putting our sweat into our goals, for one reason, be happy. Life for some might be reduced to success which is an emotion we come across while being happy. When we are performing at our peak and are able to perform continuously, we are loved. People love a sprinter when he leaves everyone behind in a split second to get a victory. People love it when a huge dunk in smashed into the net. Success is not perennial. We might have our ups and downs.
Following the grand success of Batman Begins, football had its own up and coming Bruce in Uruguay. In 2006, Uruguay reinstated Oscar Tabarez as the head coach of its national team. Tabarez started his famed project called El Proceso, which allowed him to monitor the first team and youth teams starting from U-12 alike. The kids that wanted to represent their nation had to undergo the Proceso. The Uruguayan squad in the 2018 World Cup had almost all its players undergo El Proceso.
Among the kids that appeared in the El Proceso back in 2006 was Luis Suarez. Oscar Tabarez had emphasized that he considered respect above everything in the sport. Yet, there was a kid just in his teens, under a great coach but he would still go on to become one of the loved villains in the sport. Suarez was into the U-20 team and he performed at a top class level.
He performed so well that he made headway into the senior team in 2007 itself. As surprising as it is, Suarez was sent off in his first appearance for the senior side. He enjoyed being himself. He was at the pick of controversy a lot of times but those didn’t hinder his on the field success. He was a breakthrough star in 2010 World Cup for Uruguay. Even went on to win the Copa America with Uruguay a year later and score in the final.
Suarez was involved in a biting incident at Ajax which attracted criticism but his level of football was on another level. He deliberately handed the ball against Ghana in 2010 World Cup to stop a goal. He was red-carded, slammed for going against the spirit of the sport, but it didn’t matter at the end. He still managed to move to Liverpool following his brilliant performances on the pitch. Once at Liverpool, he was being noted by almost every football follower. EPL was the perfect place for Luis to grow. He was not a regular goal poacher, he was so much more than that. He displayed goal-scoring brilliance and his finishing was at a top level. He created opportunities for himself out of nothing. He could turn a throw-in into a goal in a matter of minutes. EPL’s strong fan following and media coverage dropped Suarez into the limelight.
He managed to get into trouble again over a racial abuse case with Patrice Evra. Had any other player been involved, the consequences of these events which are against the spirit of the game could be as bad as career ending. Not, Luis Suarez, his utter brilliance was impeccable. He was one of the hottest center-forwards coming up and lit up the league in the following season and became the subject of transfer links with the biggest clubs.
Success was the only thing Luis had achieved. This brought a big question, will he ever hit rock bottom? At that time it didn’t seem like it. He managed to get out of the most adverse problems that included three biting incidents and a racial abuse case as well. His football never suffered. During the 12-13 season that the biting incident occurred at Liverpool, even his own manager slammed his conduct. But at the end of the day, Luis Suarez wasn’t known as the man caught in a biting incident, he was known as the PFA Player of the Year for 2013-14.
For one matter, success can be enjoyed only when we hit our failures. We cannot enjoy a target that we achieved if it guaranteed a 100% success rate. Failure is what makes success a dose of happiness for an individual. But it isn’t for the people who judge us. As long as the sprinter runs the 100m within 9 seconds, he will be cheered. The moment it drops to 10, they will find another person who could do it in a shorter amount of time and write the previous one off.
Once people are bored by your success, your smallest flaw becomes their biggest reason for putting their money on a different person. This is the reality of life. And due to this never-ending thirst for witnessing success, we have to go through rough patches and as Nolan rightly asked, find an answer to his question.
There are some questions which can be answered and some that cannot be. But some people have answered Christopher Nolan’s question by their career itself. Surely Luis Suarez didn’t need to answer the question. Why would he need to? He was a grand success in the EPL, running riots across the Premier League defenses and putting the opposition into all sorts. But early success doesn’t mean failures cannot occur.
There is a band that originated in the East Bay area in California. Established by their lead vocalist and guitarist and their current bassist, they took the roots of punk music to a new high. The band’s albums focused on punk rock and pop punk genres. Being a part of the early punk scene at 924 Gillman Street, they took to the big leagues with their debut album in 1994.
We are talking about Green Day, whose foundations were laid by Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt. The album of Green Day called “Dookie” was a breakout success for them, selling over 10 million copies in the US. The band is credited with establishing a punk interest in the United States. Following the premiere hit of Dookie, Green Day became a band to watch out for. People waited ardently for their next release but the follow up was not up to the expectations. Green Day’s albums Insomniac and Nimrod and Warning weren’t as successful as Dookie commercially. Although, they saw the top 10 of Billboard Top 200 charts and delivered nerve racking singles like Good Riddance.
Green Day was considered to be overrated. Their success with Dookie was reduced to a once in a blue moon hit by outsiders. Green Day hit the rock-bottom in those years.
A similar case of Green Day happened to Suarez. He joined Barcelona in 2014 after three very successful seasons with Liverpool. Suarez brought out an altogether different element at Barcelona forming a deadly trident with Lionel Messi and Neymar. His first season with Barcelona ended with 25 goals and 20 assists in all competitions. He won the treble with Barcelona in his first season itself, while scoring in the Champions League finals.
Luis Suarez was not new to success. He previously lit the Premier League on fire and he had also showcased his talent in the Eredivisie. He became the first man outside of Messi and Ronaldo to win the Pichichi with 40 goals. He led the assists charts with 16 alongside Lionel Messi. Suarez was putting up unreal numbers for a #9 and thus the people kept shut. Critics couldn’t find much to say about him.
However, towards the end of the 15-16 season, Luis Suarez suffered a hamstring injury. He was ruled out of the Copa America Centenario with Uruguay. Following the injury, Luis had a hard time finding his form back. His lethal finishing went missing. His dangerous assists were shut close. Suarez had a hard time running. He almost lost all the pace that was inside him and failed to control the ball as much as he used to. Suarez’s lethal first touch was a bit too heavy.
Suarez just couldn’t keep up with the quality that was expected of him. His performances dipped and so did his form. He was desperate for goals. In the 17-18 season, Barcelona didn’t receive what they expected off Suarez. He could no longer turn defenders and run into the open. He could no longer finish under high pressure. Suarez was no longer considered a threat for defenders. The dip in his performances, opened up opportunities to troll him.
People across Madrid trolled Suarez for his poor physique and first touch. There were unreal jokes made on him for eg: Which one is heavier, Luis Suarez or his first touch? During the Barcelona-Girona match, trollers said that the best Uruguayan striker and the best Argentinian are on the pitch. But the anti-climax is that the reference of the best Uruguayan striker was to Christian Stuani.
Seriously, this showed the levels of criticism inflicted on a player who was once revered as one of the best striker in the world. Even some Barcelona supporters thought that Luis Suarez should be sold or replaced. Every achievement and ability of Suarez was undone due to a rough patch. The Uruguayan actually hit rock-bottom for his standards and came across Nolan’s inevitable question. Why did he fall?
Going back to Green Day, they came up with a brilliant reply to their critics with their album American Idiot in 2005. The album reignited their old fire and people swarmed them again. The album saw the release of some amazing singles in American Idiot, Holiday and Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Green Day exceeded all expectations racking up Grammy nominations and positive reviews. Their album won the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2005. Boulevard of Broken Dreams won the Grammy for Record of the Year. Green Day exemplified the answer to Nolan’s question in the same year even before Batman Begins was released.
Luis Suarez’s career took a turn just like Green Day’s. Rising from his ruins, building block by block, improving all aspects of the game and enjoying it, Suarez worked to get his form back. Suarez was forced to work hard and he had a tough time against world class defenders. Yet, he got one or two goals in almost every game last season, somehow. He scored important goals. He performed his utter best in the 2018 World Cup. Suarez may not be working the goal charts now, but that does not mean his influence on the field has faded. The poor guy runs across the whole length of the field in search of the ball. He puts the defenders and keepers under huge pressure. He scores too but his killer finishing has not returned.
Suarez is much more than a regular #9. He passes the ball expertly, his off the ball movement is terrific and he creates opportunities for others. The skills that Suarez displays are much more than that from a poacher. Suarez had to play in the left wing last season due to the false-9 experiment of Valverde. He didn’t complain though. His usual position is at center-forward but he adjusted to the role. Actually, Suarez’s so-called poor season saw him scoring 25 league goals and dish almost 6-7 assists.
Suarez has been amazing this season till now. His work ethic is still top notch. He runs and runs and he runs. He passes well, he makes assists and creates chances. Luis Suarez’s contribution is sometimes overlooked because of Messi’s artistry. Suarez, however, is just as good as his vintage self. He is linking up well with the mercurial Argentinian and he is getting his goals although not convincingly. In a time where center-forwards are turning more into poachers like Icardi, Kane, and Cavani, Suarez is redefining the #9 role with a mix of creativity.
Suarez was absolutely brilliant against Inter this Wednesday and it makes one wonder. If Kane or Icardi had put on a similar show, it would make the headlines. But since he has been a subject of ridicule for a long time among sections of supporters, he may not feature in the headlines. Luis Suarez has answered Christopher Nolan’s question with everything in his arsenal.
do we fall, Luis? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up. You have picked yourself up Luis Suarez and it is all credit to you. The man has evolved into much more than a number nine. Good luck to him against Real Madrid.