• Premier League

Rodgers brands Suarez critics hypocrites

ESPN staff
November 3, 2012

Brendan Rodgers has leapt to the defence of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez once more, warning other managers that they should control their own players before accusing others of diving.

Suarez, 25, was most recently criticised by David Moyes ahead of last week's Merseyside derby, with the Everton manager claiming that the Uruguayan's antics turn fans away from the game.

But Rodgers believes Suarez has been unjustly used as a scapegoat for a problem that is much bigger than any one player.

"I believe this will be the ongoing debate, and now people will see that diving is an issue which is at every club - it is widespread within the game," Rodgers said. "It is ridiculous to single out one man, because every single club has an issue."

Three Premier League players received bookings for simulation last weekend - Angel Rangel, Phil Neville and Fernando Torres - prompting suggestions from Rodgers that Suarez should no longer be the topic of debate.

"Just look at last weekend, and two players you would deem to be great professionals - Angel Rangel and Neville - almost above criticism," he said. "Rangel was booked against Manchester City for diving but I worked with him for two years at Swansea and he's one of the most honest, genuine people I've come across in my life. But he got booked for diving.

"Neville is 35 and over the years you would consider him to be a really honest guy, an impeccable professional. But then he gets booked for diving after his manager has read the riot act to his players by all accounts. Then you have Fernando Torres booked for diving.

"So managers have made a criticism of Luis, but I can guarantee you they will have players who are criticised for diving. Hopefully people won't continue to vilify Luis just because he was the easy target before, and look beyond themselves and their own players to see it's part of the game.

"Of course we don't like it when it's blatant and personally I believe we must continue to fight to eradicate that. But it is nonsense to suggest it's just a problem with Luis Suarez."

Suarez received close attention from the Everton defence during the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, but Rodgers insists he will not be recriprocating any mind games forced on by opposition players.

"I honestly don't think you can wind Luis up, by having a go at him for diving or anything else," Rodgers said. "Others have tried to use it as a psychological tool to put him off and affect referees but it makes him stronger.

"Looking at his performance levels, consistency and goals he's scored, they'd be better off saying nothing. He'll always divide opinion. If he's on your team people will love him but if he isn't he'll get a bit of stick, but that's because he's world class.

"When I was at Swansea and we played Liverpool, I told the players: 'This guy is a nuisance but for the right reasons because he's a top player'. He's a real threat in and around the box so you have to be careful. If people criticise him, they are wrong, and I guarantee if they do, the support he gets from me will grow stronger because of how genuine I see he is."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.