Jan Molby

Time to give Suarez a break

Jan Molby

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Would any other players be under the kind of scrutiny Luis Suarez is following his handball against Mansfield in the FA Cup on Saturday?

Were people saying Peter Crouch should have told the referee that he handballed when scoring against Manchester City in September? These questions weren't asked at the time, and sometimes it looks like a case of one rule for one, and one rule for the others.

People treat Suarez differently. You saw that yesterday. Because it is Suarez you get the whole ground chanting "cheat, cheat, cheat", which wouldn't have happened to any other player. He has a stigma attached to him now and you can be sure that he will never get rid of that while he is still playing in England.

He has brought some of it on himself - we all know his past - but you should try to treat every incident separately and on Sunday I think he was vilified unfairly. It has caused an almighty fury in some quarters and I don't think that is right.

You can't even be sure if it was deliberate, so there is no question that the reaction we have seen has been well over the top. I think you could tell in Brendan Rodgers's press conference that he is getting a little fed up with all the undue attention on his star player.

The manager has tried to deal with it in the right way. He could hardly deny it was a handball so he thought he would be as honest as David Moyes is at Everton and deal with it head-on. But still the media wouldn't let it go because it was Suarez, and I think that is a little unfair.

I think Suarez is trying to change his game after being subjected to so much criticism. Over the past two months there have been examples of him staying on his feet when once he might have gone to ground - in the game against Sunderland for example.

Carlos Cuellar tried to foul him and perhaps last season he would have been rolling around on the floor trying to win the free-kick - but this time he didn't and he took the ball on. It hasn't been discussed publicly but it looks to me in his play that it is something that Rodgers and Suarez are trying to change behind the scenes.

There was a suggestion earlier on in the season, when he wasn't getting penalties, that he might consider his future in England due to the treatment he was getting and the scrutiny he was under. But I don't think that is the case.

I think he is enjoying playing his football in England and he loves the way that the Liverpool fans admire him. He seems quite happy to me, and he isn't the kind of player who is greatly concerned about what people think of him outside of his team-mates and manager. He won't be watching TV or reading the papers.

He is just a happy kid who wants to play football and whatever he has to deal with on the way, he will deal with in his way. Sunday's controversy was just another hurdle, and the controversy that stemmed from it was wrong in my opinion.

Obviously there have been cases over the past 30 years of players making sporting gestures and giving the referee a hand - Robbie Fowler at Highbury springs to mind - but it is not Luis Suarez's job to help out the match officials. The vast majority of players would have done exactly the same.

For some reason there appears to a moral question applied when it is a handball, as opposed to any other kind of foul or method to gain an advantage. People are disgusted by handballs like they are by spitting.

But there are so many different ways of cheating - pulling shirts at corners, things like that - but handballs seen to be particularly bad in England, perhaps due to the residual impact of Diego Maradona's behaviour in 1986. If that's the case then I fully understand that.

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