Friday 20 October 2017

Ref justice for Suarez will cost us -- Rodgers

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard described hat-trick scorer Luis Suarez as a "magician", but the one thing that the striker cannot conjure up is a penalty -- which is something the club is becoming increasingly alarmed about.

Manager Brendan Rodgers fears that Suarez could become a similar figure to Andy Johnson by developing a reputation as the Premier League's serial diver.

Rodgers made his concerns clear to referees chief Mike Riley in the build-up to this game, but Mike Jones still chose to ignore a blatant foul on Suarez in the box. Suarez was impeded by Leon Barnett while the score was 1-0, the Uruguayan having driven in the opener after just 68 seconds.

Is Suarez the new Johnson? "There is that fear," said the Liverpool manager. "We just have to hope that these penalties that we don't get won't come back to haunt us."

It could be argued that Rodgers' unusual step of addressing Riley before this match was counter-productive. Every time Suarez goes down in the penalty area there will now be added scrutiny, and referees are unlikely to want to be seen as being influenced by outside pressure.

But Rodgers argued: "I wasn't making the call to get a penalty. I was just making my point. But I think everyone in the ground saw it was a penalty. Apart from Mike. Luis doesn't get the rub of the green from officials."

Suarez must be commended for his response to that call going against him -- and a subsequent dreadful one-on-one miss -- as he added a second goal with a delightful finish just before the break.

From then onwards, Liverpool took a firm grip, with Suarez also creating openings, not just finishing.

"He's a magician when he's on it and he was certainly on it here," said Gerrard. "He scored three but could easily have had five or six goals himself out there and should have had a penalty."

Having ended Liverpool's winless start in the league, Suarez tweeted: "Very important victory to gain confidence." It was not just the Suarez show, though. A striking aspect of this developing Liverpool team is its ball retention and measured passing style. Rodgers' philosophy already seems to be seeping into their midfield play.

The effect was clear on Gerrard, whose passing was simple but effective -- rather than over-ambitious. Joe Allen was also looked smooth and economical in possession, while Suso picked out his targets nicely. Nuri Sahin tended to operate further forward and provided some perfect service for Suarez.

The pair linked up for the two goals that made the game safe, stretching the score from 2-0 to 4-0 in a 10-minute spell early in the second half as they set each other up for strikes.

Embodiment

Suarez clearly appreciated him, as he posed for a photograph in the dressing-room alongside Sahin and the match ball.

Rodgers sees Sahin as an embodiment of that type of football he wants to play. Sahin also appears to be a potential long-term successor to Gerrard.

The Liverpool manager said: "He was captain of Borussia Dortmund at a young age so he's got natural leadership qualities."

Gerrard himself added a fifth goal, after good work by Raheem Sterling, who is one of many improving, young Liverpool players.

The Liverpool captain credited Rodgers for picking them, saying: "You need to have a manager who has the bottle and puts his neck on the line by giving them a chance."

Norwich managed consolation strikes from Steve Morison and Grant Holt, but their defence was torn apart. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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