'Relentless' Reds machine
Liverpool crank up title pressure as Gerrard backs Suarez for Ballon d'Or
LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard has cast his vote for team-mate Luis Suarez to win the Ballon d'Or – although he had to check the rules to make sure he was allowed to do so first.
The Uruguay striker scored twice in the 4-0 win over Fulham to take his tally to eight in just six league matches he has played this season.
Nominations for the world player of the year apply to the calendar year, so his tally for the Reds is 18 in 20 league games.
But the 26-year-old will not win the trophy as part of the criteria refers to "overall behaviour on and off the pitch," so Suarez's 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic counts against him.
That has not stopped Gerrard picking Suarez for one of the three votes all national team captains are given.
"I voted for him in my top three," said the midfielder.
"I asked if the rules can be that you can vote for one of your own players and they gave me the green light, so he got one of my votes.
"I think everyone knows how much I rate him, I think we are very lucky to have him and we have to enjoy him while he's here. For me, he is one of the top four or five players in the world for sure."
Suarez's form this season is likely to be decisive in whether Liverpool qualify for the Champions League, which in turn is likely to be the deciding factor in whether he remains at the club or not.
He was very close to scoring back-to-back Anfield hat-tricks as it was his header from Gerrard's free-kick which came off Fernando Amorebieta for the opening own goal.
Gerrard's pin-point delivery saw Martin Skrtel head in a second from a corner before Jordan Henderson's brilliant through-ball, from the captain's initial pass, saw Suarez bag his first.
All three goals came in a 14-minute spell from the 23rd minute and, while the game was effectively over at half-time, Suarez left no room for debate by beating the excellent Maarten Stekelenburg at his near-post from Gerrard's assist.
The win lifted Liverpool back into second place and lifted spirits after a disappointing defeat at leaders Arsenal last week.
"It was the perfect response," Gerrard said.
"Earlier on in the week, we were disappointed with our performances individually and collectively, but the only way you can put that right is to bounce back.
"At home, the onus is on us to take the game to the opposition. Every time we struggle at Anfield it is when we are slow out of the blocks and don't press aggressively."
Manager Brendan Rodgers was pleased with his side's response, particularly with the way they came out in the second half having been so far ahead, having 68 per cent possession and 32 goal attempts.
"They had good players and, if you are not aggressive enough in certain areas, they can get goals," he said.
"It was about our hunger and continuing to turn the screw and we did that very well.
"I thought some of our combination play was outstanding, we looked a really good side.
"When I first came in here there was a real vulnerability, nervousness, around the group ahead of these games for some reason.
"But now the mentality is good, the focus is good and we are becoming relentless in these types of games and that is what Liverpool is about."
Struggling Fulham were woeful and defeat increased the pressure on Martin Jol, who remains confident he will stay in charge to guide the Cottagers to safety.
"Just before Southampton, which is a good team, away from home (on October 26) we had a very good spell," said the Dutchman.
"We won three out of four against normal teams (Crystal Palace, Stoke and, in the League Cup, Everton).
"That is what you have to do. You have to try and get points against these teams. And, hopefully, in the next seven or eight months we will get results against top teams as well.
"There's a lot more teams we can get results against. There's the top sides and then maybe outside the top seven or eight they are not better than us.
"Those are the games when we have to get results."