MANSFIELD, United Kingdom - Agence France-Presse
Liverpool’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez scored a controversial goal during his team’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over lowly Mansfield Town. AP photo
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers begrudgingly admits that if there’s controversy, his star striker Luis Suarez is always in the thick of it.
Suarez was at the centre of events as the Reds survived a rocky ride at fifth-tier Mansfield Town in the FA Cup third round on Jan. 6, the Uruguay forward handling the ball in scoring what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory.
Suarez has been no stranger to controversy since his arrival in England in January 2011 and Rodgers accepted it just had to be him again.
“It always is, isn’t it?,” he told reporters. “If it was someone else we probably wouldn’t even be discussing it. Sometimes these sorts of things will follow players. That’s part of his life. He deals with it remarkably well. He’s got thick skin. He’s had it throughout his life and his career in this country.”
However, the manager insisted that despite Suarez’s bad reputation, people were beginning to appreciate his exceptional talent -- and they should enjoy it while it lasts.
“I think what people are starting to recognize now is the ability that the boy has,” he said. “He’s had seven yellow cards this year but he hasn’t warranted all seven. I obviously try and educate the players in every aspect of their lives and he’s very receptive. He’s someone who wants to come in every day and work.”
Suarez’s got his 19th goal of the season in the 59th minute at Field Mill, just five minutes after coming on as a substitute. He replaced Daniel Sturridge, who scored seven minutes into his Liverpool debut having made a switch from European champion Chelsea.
Eighth-placed Liverpool’s next match is at league leader Manchester United.