Manager Brendan Rodgers fears Suárez could become a similar figure to fellow striker Andy Johnson, who is now with Queens Park Rangers after spells at Everton and Fulham, by developing a reputation as the Premier League’s serial diver.
Rodgers made his concerns clear to Mike Riley in the build-up to their 5-2 win
Is Suárez the new Johnson? “There is that fear,” said the
It could be argued that Rodgers’ unusual step of addressing Riley before this match was counterproductive. Every time Suárez goes down in the penalty area there will now be added scrutiny and referees are unlikely to want to be seen as being influenced by outside pressure.
But Rodgers argued: “I wasn’t making the call to get a penalty. I was just making my point. But I think everyone in the ground saw it was a penalty. Apart from Mike. Luis doesn’t get the rub of the green from officials.”
Suárez must be commended for his response to that call going against him – and a subsequent, ugly one-on-one miss – as he added a second goal with a delightful finish just before the break. From then onwards, Liverpool took a firm grip with Suárez also creating openings, not just finishing.
“He’s a magician when he’s on it and he was certainly on it here,” said Gerrard. “He scored three but could easily have had five or six goals himself out there and should have had a penalty.”
Having ended Liverpool’s winless start in the league, Suárez tweeted: “Very important victory to gain confidence.”
It was not just the Suárez show though. A striking aspect of this developing Liverpool team is their ball retention and measured passing style. Rodgers’ philosophy already seems to be seeping into their midfield play.
The effect was clear on Gerrard, whose passing was simple but effective – rather than over-ambitious. Joe Allen also looked smooth and economical in possession while Suso picked out his targets nicely.
Nuri Sahin tended to operate further forward and provided some perfect service for Suárez. The pair linked up for the two goals that made the game safe, stretching the score from 2-0 to 4-0 in a 10-minute spell early in the second half as they set each other up for strikes.
Suárez clearly appreciated him as he posed for a photograph in the dressing room alongside Sahin and the match ball.
Rodgers sees Sahin as an embodiment of the type of football he wants to play. Sahin also appears to be a potential long-term successor to Gerrard. The Liverpool manager said: “He was captain of Borussia Dortmund at a young age so he’s got natural leadership qualities.”
Gerrard himself added a fifth goal, after good work by Raheem Sterling, who is one of many improving, young Liverpool players. The Liverpool captain credited Rodgers for picking them, saying: “You need to have a manager who has the bottle and puts his neck on the line by giving them a chance.”
Norwich managed consolation strikes came from Steve Morison and Grant Holt, but their defence was torn apart. Defender Russell Martin argued: “They were threatening that for a few weeks. They dominated Manchester United and dominated us. I am sure they will do that a few more times.”