When Liverpool and Manchester United square off in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, one man, once again, will be dominating all the headlines.
Fate wanted it to be like this.
The draw for the third round was made at random a few weeks ago, and pitted two of world soccer’s biggest rivals together in an unplanned North West derby. What that random cup draw also did, inadvertently, was enable Suarez to announce his return to action (following his 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season) against Liverpool’s biggest rivals and play the hero.
You can’t make this stuff up.
It just so happened that his 10-game ban ran out just in time so he could face Manchester United, at Old Trafford, as he will surely face a cauldron of scathing United fans ready to boo, whistle and curse his every move. But that’s just the way Suarez likes it, it would seem. It simply had to be this way.
So, with Liverpool losing to Southampton during the final game of Suarez’ ban, many are now calling for the Uruguayan forward to be instantly recalled to the starting lineup to give the Reds an extra impetus and attacking panache, following their impressive start to the season.
Manager Brendan Rodgers will not have wanted to do that, especially given Suarez’ stance for most of the summer that he wanted to leave Liverpool, despite all the faith and love shown in him by the club and its fans. But with Philippe Coutinho injured, Daniel Sturridge not 100 percent fit, and a cup game against their biggest rivals all converging, it seems as though it’s written in the stars for Suarez to start, score and win the game for Liverpool against United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
But something dawned on me, we’ve seen this script before.
Cast your minds back to 1995, and the similarities between Suarez situation and that of Manchester United’s legendary striker Eric Cantona are eerie.
Cantona returned to action in an unplanned cup game, against Liverpool, after his eight-month ban for kung-fu kicking a fan in the stands at Selhurst Park. Like Suarez, Cantona aired his intentions to leave English soccer, but Sir Alex Ferguson persuade him to stay. Then the fiery Frenchman returned to face arch-nemesis Liverpool at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in October 1995, scoring a penalty to snatch United a 2-2 draw.
The similarities between Cantona and Suarez’ situation are incredibly similar, and these two hot-headed genius’ will be mentioned in the same breath by many for years to come.
Should Liverpool decide to start Suarez against Manchester United on Wednesday, will he score and play the hero, just as Cantona did on his return?
If the bizarre similarities that are already inter-twinned between Suarez and Cantona are anything to go by, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Fate may have already sorted this one out.