Johnson hopes to shackle Suarez

04 January 2014 07:16

Lee Johnson has tasked his Oldham team with doing one of the things he could not during his playing days - stop Luis Suarez.

So far this season virtually nobody has been able to answer the conundrum of how to stifle Suarez, with the Liverpool striker on pace for a record-setting year after scoring 20 goals in 16 games already.

Even Latics, who famously ousted the Reds with a 3-2 win at Anfield in this competition 12 months ago, still found their net breached by the forward who polarises such strong opinions.

Liverpool have a chance to avenge that defeat this Sunday in the FA Cup third round and, should Suarez play, Johnson will certainly not envy the Oldham defenders out to stop the 26-year-old after trying and failing to do likewise when playing for Bristol City against Ajax in 2009.

"We lost 4-0, we hardly touched the ball," the former midfielder revealed.

"I just remember it was my job to stop the supply into him and I failed miserably."

Suarez scored the opener that day and has continued to impress the Football League's youngest manager, with Johnson recently urging his own forwards to adopt some of the Barclays Premier League's leading marksman's relentless desire.

He reiterated that praise of Suarez in his press conference on Friday, although with a rather interesting turn of phrase.

"I mean this in the nicest possible way - he's like a dirty street rat," he added.

"He's sharp, horrible, but that's all in admiration for him. He's a winner; he's someone with the immense desire to be better today than he was yesterday and you see that in his game.

"He's a pleasure to watch at times and at the moment he's so high in confidence he could probably fall over and put someone through on goal."

Although Johnson was not at the Boundary Park helm for last season's FA Cup upset, there are daily reminders in the form of framed images at the ground depicting the time Matt Smith's double helped eliminate Liverpool.

So while Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert this week claimed he could do without the FA Cup, Johnson still marvels at its allure to lower-league clubs.

He continued: "For years and years it has provided upsets, joy to many people, money, media attention.

"Look at Matt Smith last year. That FA Cup has made that player. For that alone it's worth it.

"For the Oldham fans who will have a day out; for the fact we could beat them (Liverpool). How many times have there been giant-killings? Whether I was a Premier League manager or a non-league manager I would always say that the FA Cup is a massive tournament.

"Trust me, if bigger clubs get to the later rounds, then they are in it to win it and then they'll see how big it is when they get anywhere near the final."

Source: PA

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