Anyone with even half an eye on Holland’s Eredivisie would have been well aware of Luis Suarez prior to last summer’s World Cup – he ended the previous season with an incredible tally of 49 goals and was named Dutch Footballer of the Year. Everyone else will have discovered Suarez as a result of ‘that penalty incident’ in the quarter-final with Ghana. When asked about the incident recently, Suarez did express a degree of guilt: “I
Asamoah Gyan also recently reflected on the match by revealing that: “It was the saddest moment, not for me alone but for the whole of Africa. At home nobody criticised me; I’d scored most of our goals and had a great World Cup. But I didn’t sleep for a week.” On the subject of Suarez, Gyan added: “People in my country hate him. In his shoes I would have done the same. But the people in my country… he cannot ever go there. He is the most hated man in Ghana.”
Sunderland’s game with Liverpool, where Ghana internationals Gyan, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari faced Suarez for the first time since that controversial defeat, brought the summer furore to the surface once again. Hatchets appeared to be buried as all parties shook hands and Liverpool went on to win the game 2-0. Mensah was booked in conceding a penalty, which Dirk Kuyt converted, for the first goal, and was later dismissed having received a second caution for pulling back Suarez. Muntari hobbled off early in the first-half, Gyan drew a blank and Suarez clinched victory with the second goal.
A miserable day for Sunderland was compounded by also losing Kieran Richardson and Danny Welbeck to injuries, leaving Steve Bruce to address an alarming run of recent results with a further depleted squad. Sunderland have failed to win since beating Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in January, losing to Chelsea, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton before a spirited draw against Arsenal last week. They remain ninth in the table and a top 10 finish would represent a solid season, especially having lost Darren Bent at the end of the transfer window, although with a few less draws and better luck with injuries, a decent season could have been so much more. Sunderland face a tough trip to the City of Manchester Stadium after the international break, but their remaining games are much kinder. West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers head to the Stadium of Light, in amongst trips to Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and West Ham. Despite the loss, the return of club captain Lee Cattermole was a welcome boost, playing for the first time this year, hopefully he can steer clear of red cards and instead steer Sunderland a few places further up the table.