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BARRY LANDY

Features, articles and opinions on football’s biggest stories

Down in the Box is a one-man football powerhouse. Alarming amounts of energy and insight. Barney Ronay The Guardian

www.downinthebox.co.uk

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@BarryLandyDITB

Modern day captaincy a method of mere placation for Liverpool, Suarez and co The redemption of Luis Suarez appeared complete two Sunday afternoons ago, as the Uruguayan led, quite literally, Liverpool to the five goal hammering that proved Andre Villas Boas ultimate undoing. The striker himself undid the Spurs defence twice, bringing his seasonal total at the time to 17. In just 11 matches, considering Suarez started the season with six games to run on his ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic in April, it’s all the more impressive. Almost three years after joining Liverpool from Ajax, only now is Suarez’ precocious and exhilarating talent being appreciated. He’s made it hard for us. Goals and lots of them, tend to atone greatly for misdemeanours of the past. When receiving a record ban for racial abusing Patrice Evra, the club stood by him. The disgusting biting incident late last year looked to be a final straw and with flirtations with other clubs a constant thread throughout his Liverpool career, he looked to heading towards the Anfield exit door. Now, that outcome is unthinkable for Liverpool fans, with Suarez having repaid their perserverance and patience in his most valuable goals. Lots of them and dispatched with a panache and impudence unmatched in the Premier League. In that match against Spurs, in the absence of Steven Gerrard, Suarez was given the captain’s armband by Brendan Rodgers, a decision that would have been unconceivable just six months ago.

It was then, in the midst of self-inflicted scrutiny of his actions, that Suarez insist he leave the club citing media intrusion. Having stood by him, ill-judged t-shirts and all, the club and its support had every right to wash their hands of the striker.

No question, players who are given the armband speak of the privilege and honour that comes with it but is captaincy in modern day football more so a carrot to dangle in the face of interest from other clubs?

A maverick he most certainly was, but there was little sign of a leader of men simmering beneath brazen disloyalty. Now, with Gerrard sidelined until the New Year, the Uruguyan continues to wear their armband as Liverpool’s title push continues, underpinned by his goals.

So often these are players whose commitment to the cause may be in question, their stature in the eyes of the fans under threat. Is the captaincy just a method of mere placation, a symbolic promotion of sorts to quell their desire for a transfer?

It begs the question, does this de-value what the captaincy is? A role earmarked for a leader, someone who can cajole and liase, offer support and a set standards, is now handed to a man who’s preference for the purchase of a one way ticket out of the club last summer was made all too clear.

For Suarez, read Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie at Arsenal and on occasion, Wayne Rooney at Manchester United. The Football League is full of examples. People have short memories and perhaps once upon a time, the armband was more treasured than it is nowadays.

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Crewe Alexandra 2013/14