Suarez finds unlikely ally in Warnock
Liverpool 1 Queen's Park Rangers 0
Monday 12 December 2011
Neil Warnock has history with Liverpool. There was an on-field spat – and alleged spit – with Stéphane Henchoz after a League Cup semi-final defeat with Sheffield United. There was also Rafa Benitez's understrength team selection for a game at Fulham late in the 2006-07 season that he believes contributed to his Sheffield side's relegation.
Yet Warnock put past grievances behind him to speak out in Luis Suarez's defence on Saturday evening, despite having just seen his QPR team undone by the Uruguayan's virtuoso display.
Where Kenny Dalglish's DVD show to journalists last week was designed to suggest Suarez does not get fair treatment from referees, Warnock's view is that the abuse he receives from opposition supporters – which provoked the Uruguayan's hand gesture at Craven Cottage seven days ago – should also be under scrutiny.
"He is a foreign player in a foreign country. The crowd away from home gives him so much stick and he should be protected from that as much as possible.
"Yes, he's got to learn he cannot be making gestures but, bloody hell, the stick he gets it is about time someone did something about it," said Warnock, arguing that the Football Association and Premier League should "charge the clubs concerned if they are going to give abuse like that".
That Suarez's tendency for exaggerated tumbles earns supporters' scorn is a possible counter-argument: Warnock's own fans directed a good deal of their chanting his way, with one song suggesting uncharitably: "Luis Suarez, he looks like a rat."
Prominent front teeth aside, Suarez does share one trait with the little-loved rodent: he is an absolute pest for defenders, as his constant movement and inventiveness underlined.
"I don't think you can keep him quiet against anybody," Warnock added. "I think what you have to do with Suarez is hope that he is suspended when you play him."
The only caveat about Suarez's footballing ability is his finishing, for although he headed the game's only goal from Charlie Adam's cross after 47 minutes, he had already spurned four clear first-half opportunities.
Maxi Rodriguez might have had a hat-trick too, and Liverpool's profligacy, combined with the excellence of Rangers' 37-year-old third-choice goalkeeper, Radek Cerny, ensured a nervy finish.
This seems the way for sixth-placed Liverpool this term. This was their first Anfield win since September and one revelatory statistic is that their matches there against the three promoted teams have produced a combined 40 attempts on target but only two goals and five points.
"If you look at the home performances they have been fantastic," Dalglish said. "If you look at points maybe not, but there is not a game that we've played here at home that we shouldn't have won or could have won."
Against this backdrop, Dalglish refused to discuss speculation about a January move for a striker, 12 months after his near £60m investment in Suarez and Andy Carroll.
The latter, an unused substitute, sits behind Own Goal in the club's scoring chart.
By contrast Suarez, love him or loathe him, has proved worth every penny.
Scorers: Liverpool Suarez 47.
Substitutes: Liverpool Bellamy (Maxi, 79), Shelvey (Downing, 87). QPR Orr 6 (Ferdinand, 50), Campbell 5 (Smith, 66), Hill (Mackie, 78).
Booked: Liverpool Agger, Bellamy. QPR None. Man of the match Suarez. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Liverpool 56% QPR 44%.
Attempts on target: Liverpool 15 QPR 2.
Referee L Mason (Lancashire).
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