Thursday 14 December 2017

Dalglish: Time to move on

LIVERPOOL manager Kenny Dalglish has called for an end to the Luis Suarez race affair ahead of this weekend's crunch league clash at Old Trafford.

The Uruguay international comes up against the Red Devils for the first time since his eight-match ban for racially abusing defender Patrice Evra during the reverse Premier League fixture at Anfield in October.

The teams have already met, in the Reds' FA Cup fourth-round win at Anfield last month, but most observers believe this weekend's encounter has the potential to be particularly hostile towards the controversial striker, who finally made his comeback in Monday's 0-0 draw at home to Tottenham.

That game threatened to re-open the simmering tensions between the two clubs and sets of fans after United striker Wayne Rooney wrote on Twitter that he felt Suarez should have been sent off and not just booked for kicking Scott Parker in the stomach. Equally, Dalglish's assertion in his post-match interviews that he felt the player should never have been banned in the first place could have been viewed by some as antagonistic.

But the Scot, who confirmed Suarez would shake the hands of Evra and all the United players, has called for a "responsible" approach.

"Everyone involved, including the media, the supporters and both teams, has a responsibility to ensure this weekend is remembered as a cracking game of football between two very good sides, rather than for anything else," he said.

"I thought everyone involved in the FA Cup tie at Anfield played their part in making sure that the match was played in the right way, so let's make sure that happens again this weekend. I'm sure people will want to talk about Luis Suarez, but he accepted his ban, served his suspension and returned against Spurs on Monday. It's time for all of us to draw a line under what happened and move forward.

"People are already speculating on the pre-match ceremony, but from Luis' point of view we have spoken to him and I know he will shake the hand of Patrice Evra and the other Manchester United players before the game."

There are no plans to abandon the pre-match pleasantries at Old Trafford.

A precedent was set when QPR hosted Chelsea in the last round of the FA Cup. The handshakes between the teams were cancelled in an effort to ease tensions due to John Terry's charge of racially abusing Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, an allegation the Chelsea captain denies.

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