Brendan Rodgers has hit back at Jose Mourinho by claiming that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is an “easy target” for diving accusations.
Chelsea boss Mourinho claimed after Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win over Liverpool that Suarez, 26, should have been booked by referee Howard Webb for an “acrobatic swimming pool jump.”
Liverpool manager Rodgers has a great respect for Mourinho -- having worked under him as manager of the youth and reserve sides at Stamford Bridge -- but he was taken aback by the Chelsea manager’s criticisms of his striker, insisting that there was no dive.
Rodgers said: “It certainly wasn’t that. Anyone seeing the game would surely have seen that, but Luis is the easy target, isn’t he? We had a spell where everyone was jumping on his back, saying he was diving.
“I thought it was a valid claim for a penalty yesterday. It certainly wasn’t an acrobatic dive.
“This sort of thing is something that happens. For lots of people in the country, Luis has been an easy target. Football is all about opinions. Managers, supporters, the media -- everyone has an opinion, and I am no different.
“I will always give an honest appraisal of what I see, and I will always defend my players when they need defending.
“Luis has been a remarkable player this year. Not only has he done remarkable things, he has played in a way everyone accepts has been more mature. 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 I repeat he can be an easy target sometimes.”