MANCHESTER, England, January 4 – Kenny Dalglish defended Liverpool’s handling of the Luis Suarez affair after the club announced it would not appeal the Uruguayan’s eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
Suarez’s lengthy ban got under way at Eastlands on Tuesday as the South American missed Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat against league leaders Manchester City.
Both Liverpool and Suarez released statements pre-match, which were widely criticised for containing nothing that could be construed as an apology or admission of guilt.
However, Dalglish steadfastly stood by his club’s handling of the affair and yet again added his full backing for Suarez who will now miss Liverpool’s League Cup semi-finals against City and will return against Tottenham on February 6.
“If you get into asking a linguistic expert, which certainly I am not, they will tell you that the part of the country in Uruguay where he comes from, it is perfectly acceptable,” said Dalglish of the word “negro” which Suarez admits using against Evra.
“We have made a statement and I think it is there for everybody to read. Luis has made a brilliant statement and we will stand by him.
“There’s a lot of things we’d like to say and a lot we could say, but we would only get ourselves in trouble. We are being evasive because we don’t like getting ourselves in trouble.
“We know what has gone on. We know what is not in the report and that’s important for us.”
The timing of Liverpool accepting the suspension seemed strange to some observers, given the League Cup represents a good chance of success for Liverpool but Dalglish explained: “He has to serve eight games at some stage and this time is as good as any isn’t it? It was better to get the situation over and done with.”
However, Dalglish was insistent that the affair will have no bearing on whether Suarez stays long-term in England with Liverpool and also took the opportunity to justify his players’ controversial decision to wear t-shirts supporting Suarez at a recent game at Wigan.
“If you’re asking if I have any concern about Luis playing in England, then no,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with Luis playing in England.
“You see if one of you guys were in trouble, would you help him? Would you support him if you knew the truth and you knew it was right? Would you support him?
“If they want to show their support for their team-mate, what’s wrong with that? It was a fabulous statement to make, visually, of their support of a guy who is endeared in the dressing-room, one of their closest friends in the dressing-room, and all of his friends in the dressing-room can speak up adequately and perfectly for him.”
On the field of play, Liverpool were overwhelmed as City moved three points clear at the top of the league.
Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure scored first half goals before Gareth Barry was sent off for two yellow cards and City responded with a James Milner penalty after Martin Skrtel fouled Yaya Toure.
City manager Roberto Mancini was seen gesturing for the referee to send off Skrtel for the challenge and apologised for the action.
“I did it because I was nervous. Maybe I made a mistake by doing it but I didn’t agree with the referee for the second yellow card (for Barry). I watched all the games yesterday and there were lots of tackles without any yellow or red cards and we play a game and we lose a player,” Mancini said.
Barry’s suspension comes at a bad time as Yaya Toure – along with brother Kolo – leave the club after Sunday’s FA Cup tie with Manchester United to represent the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations.
“I tried to find another Yaya in the squad but there isn’t another one,” said Mancini. “For us he is a very important player and for this reason January is a crucial month for us.”