Sport Premier League

Monday 23 April 2018

Ferguson pins hopes on 'experience' in bid to keep Suarez at bay

Henry Winter

If the forceful Anglo-Saxon figure of Wayne Rooney dominates Liverpool thoughts, it is highly likely that the Latin zephyr that is Luis Suarez will loom large in Manchester United deliberations at Anfield today.

The Uruguayan attacker elegantly dissected United's defence here last season, creating Liverpool's opening goal with a dribble that saw him elude Chris Smalling, nutmeg Rafael, ghost past Michael Carrick, avoid Wes Brown's attempted challenge before rolling the ball past Patrice Evra for Dirk Kuyt to begin his journey towards a hat-trick.

Such is the menace posed by Suarez's quick feet that Alex Ferguson is considering restoring the "experience" of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand to his back line.

"He did well last year,'' said Ferguson of Suarez yesterday. "He's been probably their best signing of the players they've bought in over the last year or so. But we've played against good players many times over the years and your preparation has to include potential threats to you."

Ferdinand was overlooked by Fabio Capello for England's trip to Montenegro despite regaining fitness but he remains in Ferguson's starting thoughts.

"Rio's doing very well for us. The England thing is a bit unfortunate because he missed a couple of appearances through injury," said Ferguson.

"Maybe Fabio is looking more to the future. Rio is 32 and that may just be the reason. Some managers think that way and there's nothing wrong with that, looking to the future. For us, though, Rio is back to his best form.

"Rio and Vida are well aware that they're going to have to play (well) to keep their places. Competition is so fierce now with these young lads. Jonny Evans has been outstanding. Phil Jones has been outstanding. Chris Smalling has been outstanding."

Suarez (pictured below) is a huge concern for United as he can outpace older defenders and outwit younger ones.

"I'm sure United will know what he did to them last year,'' said Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish. "They know what he is capable of and that is their problem. The problem people have with Luis is that they don't know what is coming next.

"I don't know how he did that (run against United). It's not the first time he's done that, although maybe it was in terms of how many he went past.

"Each of the individual things he used to get past people he had done before (like the nutmeg on Rafael). He just collated them in the one run past three or four. He did fantastically well for that first goal. He does something different every time you see him."

Suarez has proved an instantly popular figure in the Anfield dressing-room since joining from Ajax in January.

"He is a fantastic personality in and around the place,'' added Dalglish, who speaks his version of Spanish to Suarez. "He felt very comfortable from the first day he came here. He was happy and smiling.

"He settled in very quickly, moved into a house very quickly and scored on his debut against Stoke when he came on as a substitute, so everything went well for him. Luis has made a fantastic contribution."

Irish Independent

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