BRENDAN RODGERS’ decision to publicly criticise Luis Suarez for his admission of diving this week wasn’t exactly universally welcomed by Liverpool supporters.
Many viewed the manager’s comments as merely providing more ammunition for the Uruguayan striker’s sizeable army of detractors.
After all, if Liverpool are going to keep Suarez’s punishment in-house then why not do likewise with Rodgers’ feelings on the matter?
Why feel the need to inform the world rather than just Suarez that his comments were “wrong” and “unacceptable”?
The point was made that by speaking out Rodgers risked alienating his 19-goal top scorer.
Fans are understandably concerned about the prospect of Suarez being lured away from Anfield next summer.
There are bound to be offers of Champions League football on the table and his commitment to the club will once again be tested.
What is abundantly clear is that Rodgers knew exactly what impact his words would have and the headlines they would generate. He simply came to the conclusion that he had no option but to deliver them.
Rodgers has repeatedly defended Suarez in the face of plenty of unfair flak so far this season but this was a step too far.
The Northern Irishman couldn’t make excuses for one of his players confessing that he had attempted to con a referee.
If Rodgers had tried to defend the indefensible, the condemnation would have come in his direction. He had nowhere to go.
The irony is that having been regularly castigated during his time in English football for being deceitful, Suarez has now found himself in trouble for his honesty.
By admitting he “invented a foul” to try to win a penalty against Stoke back in October he merely confirmed what everyone else knew three months ago after the endless replays shown of his flop in the box.
But what Suarez was guilty of this week was naivety and that’s what riled Rodgers.
It’s not the first time the player has spoken out of turn during an interview with South American media.
Last season Liverpool’s attempts to put the highly damaging race row with Patrice Evra behind them were regularly hampered by Suarez’s declarations in his homeland that he had done nothing wrong.
The fear for Rodgers is how referees will react to Suarez’s admission.
The next time he gets brought down in the box officials are bound to be even more reluctant to point to the spot, fearful they may have been hoodwinked.
Suarez is a massive asset to Liverpool and has rightly been showered with praise for his outstanding performance this season. But with such a profile comes responsibilities and this week he has been reminded of that.
“There is no-one bigger than the club and the club’s image,” the manager said.
Suarez had a point when he complained about some of the unfair scrutiny he’s subjected to.
When Wales international Gareth Bale throws himself to the ground in search of a free-kick, he is merely ‘anticipating contact’. In the same situation Suarez is branded a cheat.
Since that incident against Stoke in October there has been a noticeable change in Suarez’s on-field behaviour. Rodgers’ call for him to stay on his feet more and argue with officials less has been heeded.
Suarez has apologised for his latest outburst and knows he spoke out of turn. A line has been drawn under it and the hope is that between now and May he gets back to making headlines for the right reasons.