Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has taken a calculated risk with this season's single world-class Anfield player, Luis Suarez, by censuring and disciplining him after the striker admitted diving.
Suarez will not be subject to disciplinary action from the Football Association, having said he dived in Liverpool's goalless home draw with Stoke City in October. But Rodgers declared his conduct "unacceptable" and "wrong".
Suarez was labelled "an embarrassment" by Stoke manager Tony Pulis after going to ground in an attempt to win a penalty in the game, prompting Rodgers at the time to declare that his forward was the victim of prejudice.
Suarez told Argentinian media on Wednesday that: "I was accused of falling inside the box in a match and it's true I did it that time, because we were drawing against Stoke at home and we needed anything to win it."
Suarez's comments made it clear that he is unhappy about the media reaction to him but Rodgers still dealt out some unexpected public censure to a player whom he and his predecessor Kenny Dalglish have dared not risk alienating, such is his importance to the team.
"I've seen the comments and I think it is wrong," Rodgers said. "Certainly from our perspective it is unacceptable. It is not something we advocate here.
"Our ethics are correct. I've spoken to Luis and he is totally understanding, and knows where I'm coming from as manager of the club. This is a big club and whatever people do say goes around the world, and what was said was wrong and not acceptable – he takes that and we move on.
"There is no one bigger than the club or the club's image. The comments, from our point of view as a club, are not what we would want to hear. This is something which was obviously wrong and is not something we associate with as a club of this standing."
Pulis resisted any temptation to complain about the penalty Suarez won in Liverpool's 3-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day night, but Rodgers said after the contentious home game incident: "Whatever Luis does, there will always be a problem, whether it's media or referees." Suarez was trenchantly defended by Rodgers after the handball goal incident at Mansfield in the FA Cup third round last week.
Rodgers said he and Suarez had amicably discussed the striker's comments. "You normally find players, when their careers are finished, admit to all these kind of things – he just happened to be honest in the middle of his career," the manager said.
"My main concern is the team. As long as it doesn't affect our chances – we've only had one penalty this year anyway – but as long as it doesn't damage our prospects in the future, that is the most important issue. Anything that is detrimental towards that is something I don't take too lightly."
Rodgers defended the way he has been managing the Suarez controversies this season. "He is a real topic of conversation, football and media-wise, and as a manager my responsibility and leadership I have to make comment when I have to," he said.Reuse content