at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is an unworthy choice as this season's Premier League player of the year.
“Luis Suarez is a very good player. They're not voting for a player who has no quality,” Mourinho said, in comments carried by several British newspapers on Sunday.
“(But) the profile of player who wins the player of the year is not the profile of player who used to win in English football 10, eight, six years ago.”
Suarez was banned for 10 matches after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last season, but has returned to become the country's outstanding player, scoring 31 league goals to inspire Liverpool's title challenge.
He was subsequently elected player of the year by both the Professional Footballers' Association and the Football Writers' Association.
Mourinho has criticised Suarez this season, accusing him of pulling off an “acrobatic swimming pool” dive in a vain bid to win a penalty during Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in December.
The Chelsea manager also believes that the player of the season should come from the Premier League champions, and it is City rather than Liverpool who are in pole position to secure the title later on Sunday.
“He bit (Ivanovic) not this season, but the previous season. This is a different season,” Mourinho said.
“I'm not speaking about one mistake that a man can have. You don't have to be punished for the rest of your life if you make a mistake on the football pitch.
“(But) my player of the year would be always from the champions, in every condition. If the champion is Man City – they need a point Ä I would say a Man City player and if I have to choose one, I would choose (Edin) Dzeko.”
In praising Dzeko, Mourinho directed several veiled criticisms at Suarez.
“The kind of player he is, he's not just a goalscorer,” the Portuguese said. “He assists, he plays, he behaves, he's fair, doesn't dive, doesn't try to put opponents in the stands with accumulation of cards.
“He was the third striker at the beginning of the season. He was hidden behind his manager's first choices and when the team needed him in crucial moments of the season, I think he made the difference.
“In this moment I think he has 16 goals. Sixteen goals for the third striker is something spectacular.” – Sapa-AFP