Luis Suárez misled us over Patrice Evra handshake

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Luis Suárez misled us over Patrice Evra handshake

Posted by: TwiceasNice / February 13, 2012 11:53

Luis Suárez's future at Liverpool has been placed in doubt after the contrition the club has been accused of lacking throughout his dispute with Patrice Evra emerged in an unprecedented series of statements from Anfield on Sunday.

Suárez, branded "a disgrace" by Sir Alex Ferguson for refusing to shake Evra's hand at Old Trafford on Saturday, first issued a public apology for his actions on the club's website. Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, then released a statement that accused the 25-year-old of misleading the club before Kenny Dalglish, himself widely condemned for an interview that followed the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, apologised for conduct not "befitting of a Liverpool manager" during his appearance on Sky.

Ayre's statement represents the first time Liverpool have criticised their £22.8m signing from Ajax since he racially abused Evra at Anfield last October, behaviour that resulted in an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine. It reflects the intense anger felt by Liverpool's American owners, Fenway Sports Group, at the damage caused to the club's reputation by Suárez and the striker may yet be fined by his employers for his actions at Old Trafford. How he responds to the public criticism during the final months of the season will have a major influence on his future at the club with Ferguson having insisted he should never play for Liverpool again.

Both Liverpool and United could be charged with failing to control their players by the Football Association this week following a melee in the tunnel at half-time on Saturday, sparked by Evra attempting to confront Suárez over the handshake. It would require the referee Phil Dowd, widely praised for his handling of a hostile occasion, to file an extraordinary incident report with the FA on Monday for disciplinary measures to ensue and Evra could also face action for his provocative celebrations in front of Suárez after the final whistle. Dowd dealt with the incident at the time but the problems it caused between the rival players may result in an FA charge for Evra. There is no prospect of Suárez being censored by the FA for what occurred during the pre-match handshake routine.

"I have spoken with the manager since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong," Suárez said. "I've not only let him down, but also the club and what it stands for and I'm sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened. I should have shaken Patrice Evra's hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions. I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football."

Dalglish attracted criticism for angrily absolving Suárez of blame for the problems at Old Trafford during an interview with Sky's Geoff Shreeves. Later, the Liverpool manager conducted an interview for the BBC, at which it was made clear he would not take questions on Suárez, but did not attend the main press conference.

Despite the intervention of the club's owners, it is understood Dalglish changed his stance on Suárez completely after watching a replay of the incident with Evra and, as the statements reflect and his close friend Alan Hansen suggested on Match of the Day on Saturday night, he feels badly let down by a striker he has defended to his own cost throughout the affair.

"I was shocked to hear that the player had not shaken hands having been told earlier in the week that he would do," Dalglish said. "All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner and that applies equally to me as Liverpool manager. When I went on TV after yesterday's game I hadn't seen what had happened but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I'd like to apologise for that."

It is the statement from Ayre that is most instructive in terms of principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner's position on the striker. Ayre said: "We are extremely disappointed Luis Suárez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra before yesterday's game. The player had told us beforehand that he would but then chose not to do so. He was wrong to mislead us and wrong not to offer his hand to Patrice Evra. He has not only let himself down but also Kenny Dalglish, his team-mates and the club. It has been made absolutely clear to Luis Suárez that his behaviour was not acceptable.

"Luis Suárez has now apologised for his actions which was the right thing to do. However, all of us have a duty to behave in a responsible manner and we hope that he now understands what is expected of anyone representing Liverpool Football Club."

Suárez may be instructed by Liverpool to make a direct approach to Evra in a further attempt to defuse tensions between the great rivals, although no plans are in place for such a move yet. United released their own statement thanking Liverpool for the apologies. It added: "Everyone at Old Trafford wants to move on from this. The history of our two great clubs is one of success and rivalry unparalleled in British football. That should be the focus in the future of all those who love the clubs."

The controversy brought condemnation from Jeremy Hunt on Sunday. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, the culture secretary said: "It is incredibly depressing. It was very unsporting behaviour and I am sure the Football Association will look to see if any rules were broken."

He added: "The lesson of the last couple of months is that you can never be complacent. The prime minister is very, very concerned to make sure that we don't go back to the bad old days but also that we are absolutely on our mettle to make sure that the football authorities and the government continue to do everything we can to stamp out this problem."

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