London: Everton manager David Moyes has accused Liverpool striker Luis Suarez of turning supporters off football by conning referees.
Moyes says he is concerned about the Liverpool striker’s “history” heading into Monday’s fixture against their city rivals at Goodison Park.
He is still sore about last season’s red card given to Jack Rodwell following a challenge on the Uruguayan in the corresponding fixture, claiming that was a result of “a dive and a real poor decision by the referee”.
The Football Association later rescinded the red card.
The Everton manager said he would stamp it out if he thought his players were trying to cheat the officials.
Asked if he would be worried about Suarez’s ability to influence key decisions tomorrow, Moyes said: “I would because I think he has got history. I tell you what it will do, it will turn the supporters away from football. It is hard for the referees, it really is. But it will turn supporters away from it if they think players are conning their way to results. People like to see things done correctly, in the main.
“If a ball hits your hand, of course you are going to claim for it. And you will take every decision you get. But when people are out to manufacture it, supporters in general will not like it.
“I don’t think there are that many players out there who do it. If I got one, I would be big enough to say, ‘would you stay on your feet, please, and stop going down easily’. I would hope I would be big enough to go in and say, ‘I don’t like that’. Generally I think it is a discussion to be had. I don’t think supporters like the idea of players going down easily. “Everybody who has played football and who is involved in it hates to see that happening in the games. Anyone involved in a game would say, ‘get up’.
“I have always said players should stay on their feet. I have got a view that retrospective viewing of diving should be seen as more important than some of the technology that they are talking about coming in. I think it would make the referee’s job an awful lot easier if that was there.”
Moyes echoed the recent comments of Stoke manager Tony Pulis, suggesting players should be banned for diving.
“I think if you did that, it wouldn’t take long before you cut it out,” he said. “It wouldn’t take much to employ four or five players on a panel, players, managers and referees, I think it would be easily done.”
During his time at Goodison, Moyes had to deal with persistent diving allegations against former Everton striker Andy Johnson. He rejected the notion there was any similarity between Johnson and Suarez.
“I think it was slightly different in that Andy was so quick and quick footed that he hardly touched the ground,” said Moyes.
“Quite often he got clipped because he got to things really, really quickly. I don’t see a comparison. It got to a stage when Andy wouldn’t go down when he could have legitimately gone down. That is what you have to do. If you can legitimately stay up, that is what you do.”
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager preparing for his first Merseyside derby, has spoken about the “vilification” of Suarez. He believes referees have been influenced to ignore blatant fouls on his striker. The derby referee, Andre Marriner, will come under close scrutiny from both managers as they assess if Suarez’s reputation and recent comments have any impact on the key decisions.
For the first time since their last league title win 1987, there is a view on Merseyside that Everton should be finishing above Liverpool this season but Moyes is setting his sights beyond regional boundaries. He said: “As a manager my job is to consistently finish above Liverpool, but the focus shouldn’t be on finishing above Liverpool. We need to be thinking about how we finish above Manchester United and Manchester City. It may sound crazy but that is what I’m thinking of.”
Kenny Dalglish was the last Liverpool manager to win his first Goodison derby, during his first spell in 1985. It is a game that can define careers and Rodgers is well aware a victory is a swift means of solidifying a relationship with his new club.
“It’s the same in all the big derbies worldwide. A player can maybe only play a few games for a club but if he scores the winner in a derby, he is talked about for the rest of his time,” said Rodgers.
“I love that passion and commitment that is involved. It certainly won’t make or break our season but if you can win it, it will give you that extra confidence and keep us going forward.”