Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has defended striker Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan’s handball goal against Mansfield Town in the FA Cup.
Replays show that the 26-year-old forward handled as he bundled the ball beyond goalkeeper Alan Marriott before to score what proved to be the winning goal in Sunday’s third-round tie at Field Mill.
But Fowler believes Suarez should stop being vilified for doing his job and insisted he has done nothing wrong.
“If he has to tell the referee that he handled, do the defenders have to go and tell the ref every time they foul a striker? It’s laughable, it really is,” he told reporters.
“Seriously, Suarez did nothing wrong, and I’m amazed at the reaction. I honestly don’t even believe he handled deliberately. The ball is smashed right at his hand from very close range, and he’d need some reactions to have calculated that one.
“You can see by the way his arm bounces above his shoulder after the ball hits him that he isn’t braced for it. That tells you something. I think the way he then knocked the ball in the net he assumed it would be ruled out, but if there’s any criticism, it should be at the referee, not the player.”
Fowler was involved in a penalty incident against Arsenal in 1997 when he fell in the proximity of David Seaman before informing the referee that a penalty he was given should not have been.
But the former striker has dismissed the idea that Suarez should have confessed and had his goal disallowed.
“It’s amusing that they use me as an example to criticise Suarez, when I was always getting slaughtered in my career,” Fowler said.
“He’s the one now, isn’t he? Everything he does, he’ll get criticised for it when somebody else wouldn’t even raise a murmur. I think only (Mario) Balotelli gets the same treatment, but sometimes that’s what happens when you play on the edge.
“I think the Mansfield manager and his players summed it up when they said Suarez was just doing his job, and they’d have done exactly the same thing. So would I. It was handball, but instinctive and not deliberate cheating, and you can’t criticise him for that.”
Fowler, who has recently returned from a spell as player-manager of Muangthong United in Thailand, has also expressed his joy at being able to watch Suarez represent his team and play in the Premier League.
The former Red has also hinted he would be open to a coaching position if the right opportunity presented itself, despite joking he has not given up on his playing career just yet.
“He’s some player isn’t he, he’s got real class, and I think sometimes you have to remember the quality he has and enjoy the fact that he’s playing in the Premier League,” Fowler added.
“I would like the chance to go into coaching and if the right job comes along then I’ll take it… but I haven’t officially retired from playing yet.
“People have compared Suarez’s style to the way I played, but that’s not for me to comment on. I know he’s got class and I reckon he’d be great to work with, because you can see the desire he’s got, and that that’s one of the most important things for a striker.”