BRENDAN RODGERS insists he had no option but to discipline Luis Suarez over the Liverpool striker’s admission of diving.
The Reds boss branded the comments made by Suarez in a TV interview broadcast in Argentina this week as “unacceptable”.
Suarez confessed he had “invented a foul” to try to win a penalty during October’s goalless draw with Stoke City at Anfield. He was unsuccessful in his attempts but avoided punishment at the time from referee Lee Mason.
Rodgers refused to confirm whether the 19-goal top scorer will be fined by Liverpool but says Suarez has been left in no doubt about the club’s feelings on the matter.
“The bottom line from my perspective as the manager and leader of the club is that it was wrong to say what he said,” Rodgers said.
“It is unacceptable and will be dealt with internally. It (diving) is not something we advocate here.
“There is no-one bigger than the club and the club’s image. Our ethics are correct. I have spoken with Luis and he knows how I feel.
“He totally understands where I am coming from. This is a big club, bigger than anyone, and whatever people say goes around the world. He accepts that.
“This club has always kept its matters in house, and that’s what we will do. I’m not sure it makes a big difference if we are saying he is fined one week’s, two weeks’ or four weeks’ wages. That’s something we will keep internally.”
In reality Suarez only confirmed what everyone already knew with replays at the time having highlighted the fact that he dropped to his knees against Stoke without being touched.
However, Rodgers fears that honesty could cost Liverpool in matches over the coming months now that the Uruguayan has publicly confirmed he tried to con a referee.
“It certainly doesn’t help Luis, but more importantly it doesn’t help the team – that’s the key thing for me,” he added.
“I have got a brilliant group here who go out every week to be honest and win the game in a sporting manner. Anything detrimental towards that is not something I take lightly.
“It’s been difficult for us this season in terms of penalties. We have only had one this season.
“What his comments might have done is affect people’s thinking. I’m not saying it will do but it could do.
“It might make people think twice about (giving a decision). I wouldn’t want any second thoughts put into anyone’s mind.”
Rodgers has repeatedly defended Suarez in the face of fierce criticism from rival managers and players so far this season. But the Northern Irishman denied that he felt let down by the 25-year-old’s latest brush with controversy.
“I’ve only ever called things with Luis as I’ve seen them,” he said.
“There have been many occasions this season when he hasn’t had the rewards he deserved. I’ve defended him when I felt he was right and I’ll continue do that in the future. We have a strong relationship and I don’t feel let down.
“My feeling at the time when I saw it (the dive) was that it was the wrong thing for him to have done. It was an act only Luis could explain.
“Most players wait until the end of their careers to write a book and put in things like that. He has been honest enough to come out and say it in the middle of his career, but this is something in the game we’re all trying to clean up.
“In fairness to Luis, there have been times this season when he has knocked on my door and apologised. He did that the day after he was booked for handball (against Southampton) earlier this season when it was instinctive.”
Rodgers will be hoping Suarez makes headlines for the right reasons when Norwich City come to Anfield tomorrow.
The prolific frontman could make history as no Liverpool player has ever scored three league hat-tricks against the same club.
Suarez bagged a stunning treble in the 5-2 rout of the Canaries back in September – matching his achievement at Carrow Road five months earlier.
The Uruguayan is set to have Daniel Sturridge for company tomorrow as Rodgers prepares to hand the £12million signing his full Premier League debut for the Reds.
Sturridge shone when he came off the bench against Manchester United last weekend and swiftly reduced the deficit.
The 23-year-old frontman became the first Liverpool player since Nigel Clough in 1993 to score in each of his first two games for the club.
If Sturridge makes it three in a row against Norwich he will celebrate a feat last achieved by Ray Kennedy in 1974.
“Daniel’s performance in the second half last week and his 55 minutes at Mansfield showed he can be a very good player for us,” said Rodgers.
“At Old Trafford, his performance typified the reason we brought him in. It was a terrific shot by Steven Gerrard, a good save by David de Gea and he’s in there, in the box looking for a goal.
“There are not many players who would have got to that loose ball. If you look at the distance he has run, his pace and power have taken him into the box and he finished it very well.
“Daniel came in here and the spotlight was on him because everyone knew we needed someone up there to help Luis and get goals. But he’s enjoyed every minute of being here and is fitting into the group really well.
“It’s been a bit frustrating for him as he hasn’t been at the top level of his fitness yet. That’s why I put him on the bench and brought him into the game but he’s very close.”