OVER the space of 48 hours this past week I witnessed outstanding displays from two unique characters who share the same instinct for getting in the thick of it, the same ability to leave an observer spell-bound, the same savvy to pull off a trick or two, and, perhaps more prosaically, the same number – well, nearly.
And while 007, James Bond ,was strutting his stuff in this, his twenty-third cinematic outing with all manner of stunts, style and strikes, so was Liverpool’s own special agent no.7, Luis Suarez putting on a remarkable virtuoso display in an enthralling Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park.
A new Bond movie, now with Daniel Craig convincingly in the iconic role, remains one of those special half-term holiday treats. The ultimate action hero who always comes out on top but not without the odd scrape or three. And always with a new villain to beat.
Suarez plays villain or hero depending on whether he is bombing through the opposition’s defence with a range of ammunition that Q could only dream about – or whether he is taking an unlikely tumble in the penalty area – more pratfall than Skyfall.
What is indisputable about Luis Suarez is he has quickly become Anfield’s new matinee idol, a man that gets top billing – for good or ill.
He has very quickly become Liverpool’s most important player, relieving Steven Gerrard of some of the burden he has carried for the best part of a decade.
And just like Daniel Craig is following in the footsteps of some great 007s – Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan so Luis Suarez has world-class players like Keegan, Beardsley and Dalglish to strive to emulate.
Suarez, at his best, is unplayable. Last Sunday was one of those occasions. Chasing down lost causes, turning defenders at will, sniffing a goal, perhaps two, even three on another day. Working his socks off and coming off the field a little richer in reputation and in reality too, with an errant coin tucked in his boot.
His swan-like dive in front of the Everton bench after scoring was priceless. And, to his credit, Everton manager, David Moyes, reacted to it in the right spirit.
A deflected goal, a feint header and then a last gasp opportunistic effort could have added up to another hat-trick – his second away from home this season.
Certainly he was robbed of scoring a memorable late strike by an assistant referee who called it wrong.
Of course being Luis Suarez there is always an ‘if only’. This time he raked the back of Sylvan Distin’s leg in what looked a late and deliberate act. A yellow card could well have been a red on another day.
The little Uruguayan has been a cocktail of many things since his arrival at Anfield, shaken not stirred, but, at the moment, he IS the Liverpool attack.
That is worrying because injury and suspension are always a potential threat for El Pistolero, and the Reds strike-force without him would look thread-bare.
He still misses too many chances for me – a recent sparkling display against Reading had to be set against his missing three good scoring opportunities in the game.
And his critics have rounded on him by relentlessly pointing out he can go to ground too easily.
The reality of it is that despite being a marked man Suarez does need to ease the excesses of those manoeuvres out of his game, not least because he is such a clever player that he is going win penalties anyway. Party or no party if he gets one.
Also every Liverpool game and performance cannot solely focus on the whys and wherefores of Luis Suarez. Such attention can, in the end, be counter-productive for the team.
However, if Liverpool invest wisely in a new proven goalscorer, so sorely missing at the moment, then the thought of Suarez and that other bundle of fizz and form, Raheem Sterling playing behind that newcomer and with the midfield goal-threat offered by both Steven Gerrard and Jonjo Shelvey suggest good things ahead.
Suarez will continue to delight the Liverpool fans and frustrate those of the teams he is playing against. If, like James Bond, he can add cold-eyed, clinical and ice-cool finish to his game, then he could be the new GOALFINGER!