Liverpool 1 - 0 Stoke City: Rodgers forgives Suarez
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he is satisfied with how the situation with Luis Suarez has been resolved.
The Uruguay international returned to training with the first team on Friday having been exiled for more than a week after criticising the Reds boss, who said his attitude and performances had not been up to standard.
Suarez claimed the club had reneged on a deal agreed last summer to allow him to leave if a Champions League club came in for him, with Arsenal having had two bids for him rejected.
“I am satisfied with how everything has been resolved and we as a club are looking to the future,” said Rodgers, who refused to confirm whether the player had apologised as he said he would have to in order to be reintegrated.
“There is nothing to be said there. I won’t be saying anything on Luis Suarez and that is only purely out of respect for the [other] players.”
Suarez is still suspended for a further six matches for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April, but he was at Anfield to see his side win 1-0 against Stoke. His pre-match walk around the pitch’s perimeter brought muted applause and not the rapturous welcome he had received when he played in Steven Gerrard’s testimonial a fortnight ago at Anfield.
“He is a part of our team and club and the supporters are a class act here,” said Rodgers.
Suarez went public with his grievances after a second bid of £40,000,001 by Arsenal, which they thought should have triggered his departure, was rejected by the Merseysiders. Liverpool have always maintained there was no release clause as such, only a requirement to notify the player and begin negotiations should they wish.
Suarez seemed much happier before yesterday’s game, however, carrying daughter Delfina around the edge of the pitch to a ripple of applause from the smattering of fans assembled inside the ground an hour before kick-off.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was delighted with the penalty save and clean sheet that added up to a dream Liverpool debut as the Reds began their Barclays Premier League campaign with a 1-0 win.
The hosts had dominated throughout but had only a Daniel Sturridge, left, goal in the 27th minute to show for their efforts when Daniel Agger handled former Reds midfielder Charlie Adam’s free-kick three minutes from time.
Jonathan Walters fired low to Mignolet’s right but the Belgium international reached that and substitute Kenwyne Jones’ follow-up to get his Liverpool career off to the best possible start following a £9 million move from Sunderland.
Mignolet said: “You always pick the corner to go to and today I picked the right one. I kept a clean sheet which is the important thing. Today it worked, I am really pleased with it.”
Rodgers said: “We bought him because he is a top, top goalkeeper and he had three saves to make in total. We rate him highly.
“I thought overall our performance was outstanding. I was so, so pleased for the players because they have worked tirelessly and starts our actual season on three points. The fluidity and flow of our game was good, our passing and combination play was excellent.”
Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic underlined his quality by producing a series of saves. Of Mignolet, he said: “That was a fantastic save, Simon is a top-quality keeper and I am sure he will do well for Liverpool.”