Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says perception of Luis Suarez can change

 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has offered words of comfort to striker Luis Suarez, citing the example of David Beckham as proof of how quickly perceptions in football can change.

Suarez signed a new long-term contract with the Reds yesterday and could be catapulted straight into Rodgers' squad for tomorrow's Europa League encounter with FC Gomel of Belarus.

The Uruguayan is guaranteed a warm reception from the Anfield faithful, who continued to back the 25-year-old throughout his protracted race row with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra last season.

Away from his home ground it is likely to be a different story, however.

Suarez was booed at Old Trafford, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium during his recent Olympic appearances for his national team and it is difficult to imagine the reaction being any more forgiving when the new Barclays Premier League campaign begins on August 18.

However, Rodgers believes it could make the former Ajax man stronger, recalling the reaction to Beckham's red card during the 1998 World Cup in France as proof opinions can be transformed.

"I didn't hear the reaction (during the Olympics) but top players get a bit of stick at every away ground," he said.

"But if there is a negative reaction towards a player it is normally because they are good.

"We have seen it over time and players can become stronger for sure.

"Looking at the David Beckham scenario a number of years ago, they were burning effigies of him. Now he is king of the world.

"That is how it can change.

"The most important thing is to recognise where you are at and then move forward."

It would hardly have been a surprise if Suarez had felt his future was elsewhere given the furore his row with Evra, and subsequent refusal to admit any wrongdoing, caused.

Rodgers was presented with evidence of how much in demand Suarez was during the early days of his Anfield reign.

However, the Northern Irishman is delighted one of the central components of his future plans has decided to remain where he is.

"I have tried to sell him the vision," said Rodgers.

"There is always uncertainty when there is a change of manager. But he feels secure this club can take a number of steps forward over the next few years.

"Last year was difficult for him but this is a new beginning.

"The message from me will be concentrate on your football. Everything else will be a hindrance."

PA

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