Jose Mourinho has dismissed Luis Suarez's infamous biting of Branislav Ivanovic last season, saying that "everyone makes mistakes" and refusing to fuel the feud between the two clubs over the incident which earned the Uruguayan a 10-match ban.
The Chelsea manager even went so far as saying that Suarez had been "magnificent" this season, having been told by Liverpool that he would not be permitted to leave the club.
Mourinho said that signing the Liverpool striker last summer had never been an option because he knew his opposite number, Brendan Rodgers, would not let the player leave.
Facing his old friend Rodgers for the first time as a manager today at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho said he had been impressed with the reaction of Suarez, who has scored 19 goals in 13 League games this season.
In a notably conciliatory mood with an old rival from his first time at Chelsea, Mourinho said he had "respect" for Liverpool's history.
Asked whether he would have brought back a player who had bitten an opponent, Mourinho said: "Everybody makes mistakes." When it was pointed out to him that Suarez had committed the same offence when he was at Ajax, Mourinho replied, not entirely seriously: "He did it twice? Yes? Well, if he does one per country..."
Mourinho said that Suarez's form this season spoke of the player's attitude since being told that he would not be sold to Arsenal or Real Madrid.
"It happens a lot during the summer, players that want to leave, and after that it depends on them when they are 'forced' [finger speech marks] to stay," he said. "It depends on them to have revenge in the negative way by not performing, by not being interested, by not being committed, and it is up also to them to say, 'OK, you kept me, but I am a professional and I want to do my work properly and I want to be an honest guy and so on'.
"So I think it depends more on the player's personality and approach to that situation. It looks like Suarez, since the moment he was forced to stay, I think his answer was magnificent. You can see his motivation every game."
During Chelsea's summer pursuit of Wayne Rooney, it was indicated that there was no interest from Chelsea in signing Suarez, who was then serving his lengthy ban. Asked this week why he did not try to sign the striker, Mourinho said: "No, he was not available. Everybody likes him."
When asked why Arsenal bid for the player, he said: "Because there is always a club who thinks someone is available. We also thought some players were available and they were not available [referring, seemingly, to Rooney]. So there is always a team that think a player is available."
He added: "You only have rivalries with big clubs, you don't have rivalries with small clubs, and Liverpool is a big club. They were fighting with us for titles, for Champions' League semi-finals, for cup finals, so it's normal, but at the same time I'm full of respect for Liverpool as a club, for Liverpool's history. I always had that and I haven't changed that because I am at a rival club and Brendan, of course, is one of my best friends in football."
Mourinho appointed Rodgers as a youth coach at Stamford Bridge in his first stint at Chelsea. "Before the game it is good to be with him and after the game the same. During the game, he does his job, I do my job, no problems, for sure.
"He is welcome here, he worked here with us for a few years. He was always a nice guy and a good professional so we have good memories of him in this club."
Chelsea v Liverpool is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pmReuse content