Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers feels Reds striker Luis Suarez is an “easy target” for critics.
Following the Merseysiders’ 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, Blues manager Jose Mourinho accused Suarez of performing “an acrobatic swimming pool jump” during the Barclays Premier League contest in an unsuccessful attempt to win a penalty, referring to the moment when the Uruguay international went down in the hosts’ box having been challenged by Samuel Eto’o.
Rodgers defended his player after the match and, asked on Monday about Mourinho’s comments, he said: “It certainly wasn’t that.
“I think anyone watching the game would see it wasn’t that.
“Luis is an easy target.”
Suarez – who was playing against Chelsea for the first time since his infamous bite on Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic in April, which earned him a 10-match ban – has been at the centre of various controversies during his career and accusations of diving have been levelled at the 26-year-old on several occasions.
Rodgers added: “I think we have had a spell over the last year or so where everyone was jumping on Luis’ back, saying he was diving.
“He must be the only one who is doing it. But no, I don’t think it was that at all.
“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.”
Rodgers, who thought Eto’o should have been sent off for an earlier tackle on Jordan Henderson, had expressed his unhappiness about several decisions made by the match officials in Liverpool’s previous outing, another 2-1 league loss, at Manchester City.
Following that game, he made comments about referee Lee Mason that prompted the Football Association to contact Rodgers, asking for an explanation.
And he was keen to stress on Monday that he wants to move on from the Chelsea defeat, after which his side – top of the Premier League on Christmas Day – have been left in fifth place in the table.
Asked if he felt decisions by the officials had cost his side more than anything else in last two games, Rodgers said: “I think everyone can see the decision-making.
“But I don’t want to go into it too much – the games are gone.
“Everyone makes mistakes, the officials have made mistakes and unfortunately we have been punished. But they are gone now.”
Rodgers, who was speaking at his pre-match press conference to preview the New Year’s Day home league clash with Hull, added: “I haven’t spoken to (referees’ chief) Mike Riley about these games.
“The decisions were made, I didn’t agree with them and I will always say, especially when they are as bad as I thought they were.
“But it’s gone now, and we focus on the next game, which is Hull City.”
Rodgers has indicated Reds captain Steven Gerrard could return to action in the Hull match.
Gerrard has not played in Liverpool’s last four games after sustaining a hamstring problem in a 4-1 league win over West Ham at Anfield on December 7.
And asked on Monday if the England skipper might be fit to play in Wednesday’s encounter, Rodgers said: ”We will assess that over the next 24 hours.
”Steven has rejoined training so we’ll see how he is for Hull.”
Rodgers also revealed that Gerrard’s fellow midfielder Joe Allen, who came off in the second half against Chelsea, is set to be sidelined for ”a few weeks” with an abductor strain, and that he is awaiting news on how long defender Mamadou Sakho’s hamstring strain is likely to keep him out for following his withdrawal towards the end of the Stamford Bridge contest.
Rodgers said: ”Joe will probably be a few weeks and with Sakho we are just awaiting confirmation.
”Glen Johnson came off but that was tactical, not injury-enforced, and there are one or two other niggles that we have to assess.
”Jordan Henderson (who took a knock against Chelsea) is fine. He was obviously on his first day of recovery today and is still sore, but he is a real soldier and should be fit.”
As well as Gerrard, Rodgers has lost the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan to injury in recent weeks.