Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers has compared the biting incident with a tennis player smashing a racket in anger but that's preposterous. Let us not overplay this victimisation line
Perhaps, this being Luis Suárez, it should be clarified straight away that his anticipated non-appearance at the Professional Footballers' Association player-of-the-year dinner on Sunday has nothing to do with that impression of Rod Hull's Emu, as opposed to Branislav Ivanovic's Michael Parkinson, at Anfield last Sunday.
Suárez, according to Liverpool, was probably not going to be there anyway. It is not a snub, or a way of avoiding the cameras. It is as simple as the club suspecting Gareth Bale or Robin van Persie has won it. Nobody from the PFA has been in touch to arrange logistics, put it that way. If they are mistaken and Suárez does win it, it is probably hoping too much that he might emulate, in absentia, the response Marlon Brando delivered at the Oscars in 1973.
Brando, nominated for his role as Don Corleone in The Godfather, was so disenchanted with his own industry he refused to go and sent a Native American woman in his place to read out a 15-page letter detailing his grievances. Liverpool operate with a new public-relations team these days. If it was the previous regime, they might actually have told Suárez this was a good idea.
They have certainly handled this case with a bit more decorum than last time even if it is not entirely clear whether we should believe it was exclusively Suárez's decision not to appeal over his 10-match ban, out of a desire to acknowledge his culpability, or merely the club's lawyers accepting there was virtually no chance of being successful.
A personal hunch is that one probably followed another but Suárez has at least shown a form of public contrition even if the Football Association have not seen as much behind the scenes – his true feelings, one imagines, will emerge through El País and various Uruguayan newspapers – and Liverpool have a fair old case if they think it is time the FA look more closely into their own disciplinary system.
It is certainly confusing, whatever the FA's justifications, when Joey Barton was given four matches fewer after punching Ousmane Dabo enough times to get a stretch in Strangeways, Ben Thatcher was suspended for eight games for putting Pedro Mendes in hospital and, though disciplinary processes do evolve, Paul Davis got nine for shattering Glenn Cockerill's jaw. Unless it is as simple as the FA saying they have been way too lenient in the past.
The disparity with racism cases – an eight-match ban for Suárez and, atrociously, four for John Terry in the Anton Ferdinand case – is even more alarming, though bear in mind the FA are in the process of bringing in a new policy for those kind of offences and, therefore, the fairest way to judge is against the new tariff. The problem is the Terry case ended seven months ago and no one is any the wiser as to what that tariff actually is.
This, you come to learn, is half the problem with the FA's decision-makers. They are a cart and horse in a world of fast-moving traffic. On they plod, oblivious to the fact that so many people are honking their horns and getting road rage around them.
At the same time, the FA's conclusion that, out of view, Suárez has "not appreciated the gravity and seriousness" of what he did is fairly damning, and it is remarkable how quickly Liverpool have switched into full outrage mode rather than the embarrassment that might be expected when one of their players has behaved like an attack dog.
For starters, this assertion from Rodgers that Suárez's decision to grab an opponent by the arm, then bite down, followed by the old Basil Fawlty shrapnel-in-knee routine, can be traced back to his upbringing in Uruguay, where "everything is about survival". If nothing else, that's a remarkable slight on the countless other footballers who have known their own hard times yet don't feel inclined, as normal-thinking adults, to bite rival players. Ivanovic, brought up in a war zone, could probably vouch for this, one suspects.
Rodgers has compared it with a tennis player smashing a racket in anger but that's simply preposterous. Unless, that is, he means smashing it over the umpire's head. Suárez has now been banned for 26 games for Liverpool and Ajax, without incurring a single red card, since November 2010. "Each time he makes a step forward we find ways to beat him with a stick and beat him down," Rodgers said. But what does that mean? Who, precisely, is "we"?
It wasn't anyone from Liverpool, or the FA, or Manchester United, or Fleet Street, who persuaded Suárez to say what he said to Patrice Evra that time.
It wasn't David Bernstein, or Chelsea, or Tommy Smith, or that bloke who plays the records at Anfield (good ones, incidentally) who suggested Suárez bite Ivanovic. "He hasn't let me down one bit," Rodgers says. Oh, but he has, Brendan. We know why you are saying that, with his importance to your team and the gap to the top, and we know if he were a fringe player he would be treated very differently. We understand all that. But let's not overplay this victimisation line. Suárez, we are told, is so hurt and shocked he is considering his future. What he should be doing is considering his future behaviour and the difference between being a great footballer and a great football man.
Whether a bite, as primal and disturbing as it is, warrants a 10-match ban is another matter. It certainly deserved more than the three Liverpool campaigned for, which was plainly wishful thinking given that Rodgers has subsequently said he would have understood six, with the same again suspended to act as a deterrent. Very few had predicted 10 whereas my own expectation was seven or eight. Yet it was always guesswork. Gary Neville had it right when he said it was like randomly chucking a dart at the board and seeing what number you hit.
What is clear is that the FA need to establish a set disciplinary panel, involving legally trained experts, rather than the tombola-style system they currently operate whereby different people are brought in every time, often bussed in from county branches, with varying ideas and approaches and not always a great deal of expertise. The Home Office released figures a few days ago that show one magistrates' court can be twice as likely as another to impose prison sentences for the same offence and it's the same basic principle at the FA. It's not ideal, to say the least, and there should be changes.
The bottom line, however, is the ban is certainly not as dumb, or wrong, as the offence itself and it's a sorry set of events when a Liverpool figure as revered as Dietmar Hamann is subjected to abuse on Twitter for not joining this strange brainwashed cult (honorary president: Gus Poyet) that cries witch-hunt as its default setting. Rodgers, like many managers, wants to defend his player. Yet a little more middle ground would have been welcome, rather than all this talk of bias and persecution and colluding authorities, and the permanent sense of someone operating with blurred priorities.
Then there is that statement, signed off by the chief executive Ian Ayre, about Suárez's fine going to the Hillsborough Family Support Group, the clear intention being to spread the message that he was not such a bad bloke, after all, and the sense it left that PR in this case stood for pretty rank.
It is difficult to disagree with Sheila Coleman, of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, who described it as "disgraceful" and "exploitation", directly naming Ayre, and it has been revealing to see the unease with which the people running the fund have accepted the money.
It also brings to mind a story I was working on a couple of years ago about another Premier League player, with absolutely no connection to Merseyside, who had taken it upon himself to make a donation to the Hillsborough families. It is difficult to go into the precise reasons without revealing who it is. Yet the player in question, when approached, didn't want any headlines then and still doesn't now. There is a difference, he concluded, between making a donation in private and one that could be held up as strategic, to shape the news and influence opinion.
Liverpool, to give them their due, are usually spot on with their handling of all things Hillsborough. It's just a shame this one seems to have gone over Ayre's head and that he was placed in this position in the first place.
John Terry started to crave a return to the England setup during those unfamiliar moments in the last international break when he was virtually on his own at Chelsea's training ground, reading about the defensive problems facing Roy Hodgson and not quite sure how to spend all that free time.
Terry previously described his position as "untenable" but this volte-face, seven months down the line, is probably no surprise given his considerable ego and that David Bernstein is leaving his position as the Football Association's chairman when it is he, more than anyone, against whom the Chelsea captain holds a grudge. Terry's grievance, it transpires, is because he claims he was assured the FA would not hold a disciplinary hearing if he were acquitted in court of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. Bernstein runs the organisation that banned him for four games. Terry, as we all know, is pretty good at feeling hard done by, no matter what the circumstances.
It's a fair old mess and the first question Hodgson has to ask is this: can he still cut it at the absolute highest level? Terry has started nine league games for Chelsea this season. He is not what he was at Euro 2012, when he played with great distinction, his long history of playing through debilitating injuries is clearly wearing him down.
There is also fairly compelling evidence that Rio Ferdinand, Anton's brother, is now the more reliable player, something that should be confirmed by his place in the Professional Footballers' Association team of the year on Sunday. On the flipside, does Hodgson want to go back to Ferdinand after all the palaver that was caused before the San Marino and Montenegro games?
Hodgson is very much in the pro-Terry camp and my suspicion is that he will gladly accept him back. It is not too difficult to imagine Hodgson thinking now he should have made a quick check call and spared himself that debacle with Ferdinand last time around.
Terry, for good measure, has already let it be known he holds no grudge against the older Ferdinand brother and is willing to play beside him if necessary. You have to give it to him: he's got some front. It is not too difficult to imagine the look on Rio's face when he heard that one. The kind of look, you might say, a man normally wears when a passing pigeon has just splatted his most expensive jacket.