As Luis Suarez sat and watched Liverpool’s outstanding start to the season, he may have wondered if a starting place would be waiting for him when he finally returned from his 10-match suspension.
But today, as he prepares for his first league start of the season against Sunderland, the Uruguayan could prove to be a timely saviour.
The Reds’ impressive early form has tailed off, replaced by draws and defeats that see them out of the League Cup and currently sixth in a league they were recently topping.
A 2-2 draw with Swansea was followed by consecutive 1-0 defeats to Southampton and Manchester United. And while Suarez could not alter the latter result on his return to the first-team, he will be hoping his reintroduction to the league sees a different outcome.
Bottom side Sunderland are either the ideal or the least-wanted of opponents. A club with just a single point so far should be easy pickings for a striker who has shown in recent matches for his country that he has not lost his goal-scoring knack despite his extended break.
But with a new man in (temporary) charge, and freed from the apparent shackles of Paolo di Canio, the Black Cats could prove to be a tough nut to crack.
Suarez has a lot of making up to do, and whether he believes that or not it is time for him to make headlines only for the right reasons.
He is an undeniably talented player – on his day one of the best strikers in world football. And whether he sees a future at Liverpool or elsewhere, he must learn to keep his head down and do what he is best at.
Should he still dream of a move to the Bernabeu, Real Madrid are unlikely to sign a player for whom controversy was not a stage but a default setting. And it is time he realises that.
If he does so, Liverpool will benefit in the short-term and possibly even longer. Although speaking to the Sun he revealed that while he hoped to challenge for trophies this season, he would speak about his future at the end of the campaign.
What happens next may well depend on which Suarez we see for the remainder of the season…starting today.
What do you think the season holds for Suarez and for Liverpool?
image: © RuaraidhG