Message to the media – Be careful what you wish for

13 March 2013

Another man of the match performance by Luis Suarez at the weekend and still his publicity is laced with negativity. Matt Sproston looks at the media portrayal of Luis Suarez.


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I do like a good laugh. If you know any good jokes send them in or better still send them to @everton, I hear they need cheering up.

I heard a cracker recently, it goes like this. Did you hear the one about Luis Suarez being voted 45th best player in the world by Four Four Two magazine? Ha ha. It gets better. Antonio Valencia was voted 44th best. Here’s another one… Karim Benzema was voted 17th best!! I think my sides have split!

Now you can take these polls how you want, I prefer to take them with a pinch of salt (or in this particular case with a handful). But what it does show is the disregard with which Luis is held in the media.

Take another example. Following the Spurs match, the unofficial Manchester United Director of Communications, Geoff Shreeves, interviewed Luis and Carra. Luis had won man of the match after another virtuoso display. However, he is clearly not comfortable speaking English in front of the camera (Carra was there to speak Scouse) and so a Suarez interview is rarer than a hen’s tooth.

Here was an opportunity to discuss a fascinating match and another wonderful individual performance. If Shreeves wanted to get an exclusive maybe he could have asked about his plans for next season.

Instead, Fergie’s favourite interviewer chose to ask about the goal (fair enough but no marks for originality). He then asked whether it was a penalty (it was of course the most blatant penalty imaginable). Finally, he brought up the “incident” at the end of the game (a bit of “handbags” that lasted no more than 5 seconds). Shreeves wasted a valuable opportunity to speak to Luis by asking 3 questions of which 2 were designed to antagonise. Is it any wonder that Kenny lost it with him?

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One last thing while I am on a roll and then I’ll get to my point. I was listening to Talksport (I should know better) and a member of the press was talking about Stevie G’s statement that Luis would be the best player ever not to win an award if he does not win one this season. The journo (I don’t know who it was as I hit the off button) agreed that he was the best player but said that he still shouldn’t win anything as he’s got a chequered history! Using that criterion, I can’t imagine who his Football Writer’s vote will go to. Joe Allen maybe? He seems quite harmless.

Of course none of this will come as a surprise to you. The knives have been out for Suarez pretty much from day one. There have been times over the past two years when his press coverage was far worse but even now when there have been no “problems” on the pitch (and certainly nothing off the pitch) it seems like there is a concerted effort on the part of the media to drive Luis from our shores.

How will it end? Luis undoubtedly loves our club and so I believe (hope) that our relationship still has some way to go. However, despite the fact that he seems extraordinarily thick skinned, everyone has a breaking point and if there comes a time when he has enough of the abuse there will be no shortage of suitors. Let’s face a fact, he is now at a stage where he could walk into ANY team in the world. And they would ALL love to have him, even those whose supporters froth at the mouth every time his name is mentioned.

And so if Luis goes to Real Madrid or Barcelona (or Atletico Madrid – another good joke that I heard) the Reds’ fans will be devastated but in many ways that will be the thin end of the wedge because it would affect every football fan in the country.

In a season where all four English Champions League entrants have been knocked out before the quarter finals and a poor Manchester United team are cantering to the title, the erosion in quality of English club football is glaringly obvious. The volume of world class players that graced our league 6 or 7 years ago has dwindled through the ageing process or transfer (or in Rooney and Torres’ cases – form). The Premier League product cannot afford to lose any more of its stars. It certainly cannot afford to lose arguably its biggest star.

And what about the media that is trying its best to push Suarez away? They should be careful what they wish for. Who do they think will fill the column inches and sell their papers or satellite subscriptions?  The deluded ones think Cristiano Ronaldo is coming back to United. That’s probably the funniest joke of all.

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