Brendan Rodgers accused Jose Mourinho of jumping on the bandwagon over Luis Suarez yesterday as he prepared to welcome back Daniel Sturridge ahead of schedule and restore one of the Barclays Premier League’s deadliest strike partnerships.
After initially bracing himself for an eight-week lay-off, Sturridge is setting his sights on a comeback to Liverpool’s squad in half the time.
His rapid recovery will come as a major boost to Liverpool after two straight defeats and will ease the burden on Suarez (below), who struggled to make his usual impact at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and found himself under fire from Mourinho, much to Rodgers’s surprise.
Though reluctant to be drawn into a slanging match with his close friend, the Liverpool boss was clearly taken aback by Mourinho’s interpretation of Suarez’s tumble in the area, after being challenged by Samuel Eto’o, in Chelsea’s 2-1 win.
The Chelsea boss claimed Suarez had performed an ‘acrobatic swimming pool jump’ to try to win a penalty and should have been booked by referee Howard Webb.
Rodgers claimed he was unaware of the comment and sprang to his leading scorer’s defence, saying: ‘It certainly was not that.
‘There was a spell where everyone was jumping on his back, saying he was diving, so he (Mourinho) must be the only one doing it
‘I think it was a valid claim for a penalty against a player who wasn’t even making an effort for the football. I certainly wouldn’t say it was an acrobatic dive.
‘Luis has been a remarkable player this year. People have recognised his maturity and seen his behaviour has changed.
‘This is the first time anyone has criticised him in that respect this season, but he can be an easy target sometimes. Will the criticism affect him? What do you think? He has a strong mentality and it won’t bother him one bit.’
With Joe Allen out for ‘a few weeks’ with an adductor strain, Steven Gerrard could be in line for a role on the bench at least against Hull at Anfield tomorrow after stepping up his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, John Terry, who made his 600th appearance against the Anfield club, feels the return of Mourinho has resulted in the re-emergence of the old Chelsea.
‘The last couple of years we have lost our identity a little bit,’ said the Blues skipper. ‘There’s some good teams in the league and when you go 3-2 up (for example) it’s important you get men behind the ball and dig in deep and not give them opportunities to really feed on.’
Terry’s central defensive partner Gary Cahill has urged the Blues to ignore claims they are a team in evolution and go for the jugular in the title race.
‘The gaffer has touched on that it is a bit of a transitional period but at the same time we have the quality to be competing in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League,’ said the England international. ‘The second half of the season will be massive for us.’ – Daily Mail