Kenny Dalglish backs Luis Suarez in racism row
Kenny Dalglish gave a robust defence yesterday of Luis Suarez, his striker who is embroiled in a racism row with Patrice Evra following the Manchester United full-back's accusations after last Saturday's match at Anfield.
In the wake of the 1-1 draw between Liverpool and United Evra claimed that Suarez had called him the "N-word" on several occasions. Suarez immediately refuted the allegations, which the Football Association is looking into.
Dalglish, wearing a badge promoting anti-racism organisation Kick It Out's One Game, One Community campaign, supported his player. He also rejected suggestions by his United counterpart, Sir Alex Ferguson, made after the game, that the Uruguay international was a diver.
"The only thing I will say – and then it is put to bed – is that the football club and everyone at the football club is totally and utterly fully behind Luis Suarez," said Dalglish. "There was an allegation after the game about him diving all over the place and there was an allegation from Patrice Evra.
"Obviously the two things are emotive but we support the wee man on both things. At the start of the week the club made their position known and apart from what I have said we won't be adding to it.
"We are fully looking forward to a complete, transparent report from the FA and we will co-operate 100 per cent."
So far there appears to be little progress on the matter, with the FA due to speak to Evra, who is likely to need some secondary evidence to support his case as he did not mention it to the referee Andre Marriner during the match. The official only received a complaint after the game when Evra, accompanied by Ferguson, asked him to put it in his match report. Suarez went public with his denial on Sunday and Ferguson, on Monday, said Evra fully intended to pursue the matter.
Suarez is seemingly more concerned now with his performances on the pitch. "I think I can still keep improving and offer that little bit more," he told liverpoolfc.tv yesterday. "I am happy at how the team is playing as a whole but from a personal point of view I'd love to be able to provide that bit extra for the team."
Despite the racism controversy, Suarez is likely to start for Liverpool at home to Norwich City tomorrow while Evra is set to keep his place for the Manchester derby on Sunday.
Whether Jonny Evans will line up alongside him is open to debate now that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are back from injury for United but Evans has made a sound start to the season despite some indifferent form during the last campaign – and for that he thanks those around him.
"I have enough family and friends around me who are happy to bring me down to earth," Evans said. "I have friends who would say, 'You didn't play too well today'. At the time, I might think they are being cheeky but they were right. They will tell you. Sometimes you have to take on board what the people closest to you say. You have to be honest with yourself as well."
Last season's struggles did come as a surprise to Evans, after all, Ferguson had been happy to let Gerard Pique return to Barcelona in the summer of 2008 so sure was he of the Northern Irish defender's talent. Initially it paid off with silverware aplenty over his first two seasons. "If you look back over the years a lot of youngsters have come into the team and had a good season or two, then taken a little dip," Evans said."Sometimes you do think you are immune from it and maybe I took my eye off the ball a little bit. Maybe I thought it was going to come as easily as the previous two seasons. All of a sudden it hits you. You just have to regroup.
"I feel more assured now. When you go through a stage of not playing well, there is a bit of pressure. Sometimes you can feel the crowd are getting on your back. In the end it was a case of 'stuff it, what have I got to lose?' I have never been one to shirk a challenge. Whenever things are tough, I always feel as though I can respond."