Rodgers stronger after Suarez "saga"

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits handling the summer transfer saga of Luis Suarez made him a better boss.

Luis Suarez of Liverpool is congratulated by Manag

In a week when England's cricket team sought to deal with their 'problem' player by sacking Kevin Pietersen, Rodgers spoke of the importance of man-management in the modern game.

There seemed little prospect of Suarez remaining at Anfield once he got a sniff of interest from Saturday's opponents Arsenal and he quickly went public with his thoughts, claiming the Reds reneged on a deal to allow him to join a Champions League club.

The Gunners' £40million plus £1 bid - made in the mistaken belief it would trigger a get-out clause - was forcefully rebuffed by Liverpool's principal owner John W Henry and the upshot was Suarez, who was still serving a suspension from last season, was banished from the first-team training group.

However, just over a week later his exile was ended and the turnaround was completed when he signed a new four-year deal in December.

Suarez's 23 league goals this season have fired Liverpool into top-four contention and Rodgers believes a little understanding of the player's position went a long way to recovering a seemingly lost situation.

"I knew first and foremost the human qualities of Luis," said Rodgers.

"He is a good man. He is a very generous human being and I have found him very amicable in everything I have spoken with him on.

"He was in a difficult place in the summer and I understood where he was at. I had empathy for his situation.

"I have watched Champions League games for many years and he is a player that wants to be at that level and deserves to be at that level.

"But we had to protect the club and hopefully sell to him this was still the place for him to play at that level.

"If you are at that level in the Champions League, and from my experience watching Liverpool from the outside and speaking to some of the players who have been involved, there are not too many better places than being at Anfield on a Champions League night.

"It was about managing the situation and always being honest about the situation. That is what you get paid for.

"Yes it made me a better manager because it is a problem which you don't get as a scenario when you are doing your coaching badges and how you deal with it can make you."

The Liverpool manager has this week offered some advice to Garry Monk, who has taken the reins at Rodgers' former club Swansea on a caretaker basis following the sacking of Michael Laudrup.

"My natural environment is on the field coaching as that is what I have done all my life but there is no doubt the man-management aspect is important," he added.

"I spoke to Garry Monk, who has gone in at Swansea, and straightaway we are talking about some of the man-management issues that he had maybe looked at when I was there as manager.

"You always have to respect your players but hopefully you can find the common ground which allows the club to take advantage of the some of the great players you have."

Suarez and Sturridge, having scored 37 league goals between them in 35 appearances, represent Liverpool's best chance of not only beating Arsenal but securing Champions League football.

They may work well together but Rodgers does not believe they are a partnership and insists he is not frightened of sacrificing one if the team begins to suffer.

"These two (Suarez and Sturridge) have a telepathic way on the field but they have differences in their game," said the Reds boss.

"They are both goal scorers and they will both look for each other because they are good players but their qualities mean they are not really a combination.

"When we played 3-5-2 they played up together but like in the Everton game one was wide and one was through the middle and they interchange.

"You have to find a way to get your best players in the team but ultimately for me if it didn't work I wouldn't play both together because what we are building here is a successful team

"We've had enough evidence over the last year when one of them has been out - and they have over a period of time - we have still been successful.

"As long as the two of them can play together and it doesn't affect the balance of the team then I will always work to find that way."



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