Adaptation is always cited when a player comes in from another country to ply his trade in the Premier League . The physical nature of English football, with its high tempo and crunching tackles, has been a major cause of some player’s failing to perform in one of the best leagues in the world. It is said, that to make it in England, you have to have certain characteristics to adapt to its style. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said this about Luis Suarez this week:
“He’s a good person. He’s bubbly and just loves playing football. For the style he is, both as a player and a person, I don’t think he’d find it difficult to fit in anywhere. That’s great credit to him.”
It is a fact that is clearly evident from the Uruguayan’s performances so far that he has seemingly needed no time to adapt whatsoever. Even those with the most ideally designed characteristics for the rigours of English football, it is said that it takes most players at least 6 months to adapt to the tempo and speed of thought necessary to play at the top of your game week in, week out in the Premier League. For some, less ideally suited to the style, it takes even longer to adapt, and for others, the adaptation never takes place at all.
Many of those who failed to adapt came from the lesser leagues of Europe, especially Holland. For every Ruud van Nistelrooy and Sami Hyypia, there is a Mateja Kezman and Alfonso Alves, and for that reason, I certainly wasn’t the only one who was thinking that spending £22.5million on Luis Suarez could have been a risk. Spending more money than we did on Fernando Torres to land the player, could have obviously back fired, but as you can tell from King Kenny’s comments, he never expected the Uruguayan to fail. Both himself and Damien Comolli had done their homework, and knew what they were getting.
Back in January I was fully expecting that I would have to write an article before the end of the season that would have to defend Suarez against accusations that he couldn’t cope with the rigours of the Premier League; that he needed time to adapt. It was clear from the first minute of his debut however, that he would take to the Premier League very quickly indeed.
Everyone was aware of Luis’s qualities when he starred for Uruguay at the World Cup. Great with the ball at his feet, he had a turn of pace and the ability to ghost past defences with his skill and trickery. He was a very awkward to mark as Uruguay more or less afforded him a free role to move from the left flank to right or through the centre. No doubt these qualities would come in use in the Premier League , but how would he cope with the change in tempo? In Holland, there is a greater time on the ball and a lot more time to think. In England however, Suarez has found that the greater pace of play has provided him with larger amounts of space to play in, which he can exploit:
“The pace of the Premier League is completely different to where I’ve played before. It’s unlike the Netherlands, it’s unlike Uruguay and it’s unlike playing in the World Cup. This is a big league and it’s got its own way of doing things.You have to be strong and be able to play very physically. You have to be able to adapt to the way the game is played. In other leagues defences play very tight but here you get space. I’m enjoying it.”
He is stated yesterday that he firmly believes that playing in England can help him become a better footballer and I have no doubt it will. Although he is still use to having more time on the ball, Suarez may sometimes give away possession too easily as he tries to make something happen, but he great thing about the Uruguayan is that he is always lively. He is always looking for space, looking to create opportunities and open defences. Unlike Raul Meireles or Alberto Aquilani, there is no need to state that he needs time to adapt. This is the most surprising thing about Suarez so far, and hopefully this rich vein of form he is in will continue long into his Anfield career.
Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool