Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Tuesday September 24 2013
Luis Suarez has been backed by his manager to win over fans on the eve of his comeback from suspension...
With the much publicised, and eagerly anticipated, return of controversial Liverpool striker Luis Suarez now imminent, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has predicted that the Uruguayan will get supporters back on side through the quality of his performances.
Suarez has not appeared for the Reds first-team since April, when he picked up a 10-match suspension for biting an opponent, but he is likely to feature in the Capital One Cup clash with rivals Manchester United on Wednesday night.
The biting incident, during an eventful 2-2 draw with Chelsea, was the latest in a long line of disciplinary problems that have plagued the gifted 26-year-old during his time at Anfield.
Fans, already concerned by his mounting rap sheet which also includes the infamous alleged act of racism against United's Patrice Evra in October 2011, were given further cause for dissatisfaction during the summer when Suarez tried to engineer a move away from the club.
Despite his constant public diatribes criticising the media, the Football Association and the club itself, Rodgers and Liverpool's owners stood firm in the face of bids from Arsenal, and reported interest from Real Madrid, to retain their star player.
Consequently Suarez must now rebuild the trust and respect of everyone connected, especially the many Kopites who previously worshipped his every move, but it is a task Rodgers is confident he will achieve.
"All you can do now is judge him on his performances on the field," said Rodgers in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.
"For the many millions of supporters around the world, the measure and test for Luis is on the field.
"One thing I have learnt about the Liverpool supporters here is that whilst the player wears the shirt, they are behind him.
"I had a guy in here during the week, 85 years of age, telling me about the great traditions of the club. He has been sat on the Kop for many years, hardly missed a game, and he said to me, 'Brendan, the one thing with Liverpool supporters is, when the boys stick on the shirt, we will back them, but what they have got to show is that commitment.' You will see that from Suarez because he can't play any other way.
"His way to say sorry or make any contribution back to the supporters is to play with his heart 100 per cent and score goals and make this team successful, and I'm confident that will happen."
Although Rodgers is yet to confirm his involvement against United, the Northern Irishman is personally delighted to have Suarez back.
"We have been on a great run without him and that is a great credit to the players that have been available but now he comes back we are getting a £50million, £60million striker into the team, and that is exciting for us," added the former Swansea City manager.
"We have had a good start, but this is a player that can come in and make a difference for us."
Football is a very fickle world and I have no doubt Rodgers will be proved correct should Suarez produce a series of impressive, goal-laden performances. Personally I will never hold him in the same regard again after his actions this summer, especially given all the support he has received from the club and fans during his numerous on-field indiscretions, but even I must admit that I will easily forgive, if not forget, should Suarez fire us to success. The team is undoubtedly better with his unique talent involved and collective glory will pave the way for his partial redemption. Until the next time he transgresses at least.
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Date:Tuesday September 24 2013
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