Rodgers keen to bring Suarez saga to an end
Manager’s remarks come after director admits striker’s behaviour damaged club
Jonny Evans of Manchester United tackles Luis Suarez of Liverpool during the Capital One Cup Third Round match that marked the return of the Uruguayan striker. Photograph: Getty
Ayre described Suarez’s rehabilitation into the squad after a 10-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic as akin to teaching “a naughty kid the error of his ways” at a sports industry event on Thursday. The Anfield official also accepted the controversies surrounding the 26-year-old had affected perception of the club.
“I’m not saying Luis has made a huge, damaging impact,” said Ayre, “but every time you have a negative issue like that particular one [Ivanovic] then of course it’s damaging. The important thing is to put it right and restore the integrity of the club.”
Suarez had more important matters to concern himself with on Thursday when his wife gave birth to their second child. “As you can imagine, he is on top of the world,” Rodgers said.
But after a summer when the Uruguay international pushed in vain for a transfer to Arsenal, and accused his manager of breaking promises over his future, Ayre’s comments could test the truce that exists between Suarez’s camp and Liverpool. Not so, according to the Liverpool manager, who welcomed Suarez back from his latest suspension in the Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United on Wednesday night.
“I thought the coverage was unfair on Ian. He was talking about the coverage of the club as a whole rather than just Luis Suarez. That is all behind us and we have to focus on the future. I don’t think anyone wants to keep regurgitating that stuff and it belongs in the past,” insisted Rodgers.
Suarez is in line to make his first Premier League start since April at Sunderland tomorrow having played 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
“You could see the threat he posed the other night and he’s only going to get better,” said Rodgers . “He linked up with Daniel [Sturridge] very well and he will only improve.”
Sturridge excelled at the head of Liverpool’s attack in Suarez’s absence, scoring six goals in the first five matches of the season, but his contribution dropped alongside the Uruguayan at Old Trafford as Rodgers’s team suffered a second successive defeat. The manager, however, is confident the pair will flourish together.
“I think Luis’s return will only improve Daniel and make him a better player,” he added. “Good players want to play with other good players and I think you will see they can be a real threat.”
Tomorrow represents a return to Sunderland for the Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, signed for €11 million in the summer, and Rodgers believes the Belgium international has shown why he was prepared to end Jose Reina’s reign as Anfield’s No 1.
“Simon has settled very well and made some important saves,” the Liverpool manager said. “We needed a keeper . . . to come in as smoothly as possible . . . We knew mentally he was a strong boy and focused on his work.