Suarez and Gerrard both nominated for PFA award, as Liverpool dominate.

Liverpool clean up, as Reds win Premier League manager and player of the month awards


It was certainly a marvelous March for Liverpool, as the Reds propelled themselves towards a first English league title in 24-years.

Their terrific form hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the Premier League awarded a hat trick of accolades to the Merseyside club on Friday. Manager Brendan Rodgers scooped the Manager of the Month award for March, while star duo Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez were jointly awarded the Player of the Month trophy.

Liverpool won all five games in March, as Rodgers has now led his team to nine-straight wins with Gerrard and Suarez the architects behind the Reds’ mastery. Back-to-back 3-0 wins against Southampton and Manchester United started the month in style, before crucial victories over Cardiff City, Sunderland and West ham followed.

Gerrard scored four times, while Suarez netted a hat trick away at Cardiff and added three more for good measure. In fairness, these wards were nailed on as the Reds continue to surge towards a hugely unexpected PL title this season.

Speaking to Liverpool’s website, Rodgers accepted his award on behalf of the staff at the club, and hoped he’d be picking up the award for April too.

“Of course, it’s recognition of the great work that has gone on in the team, which is to win games,” Rodgers said. “But I don’t pick it up as an individual really. It’s an award that I collect on behalf of my staff here, who work tirelessly every day in order to allow us to perform. I pick it up on behalf of the players, because without them – and their hunger and their determination and quality – you don’t win games. It’s a real collective effort. I receive it, of course, with great thanks, and hopefully we can pick up April’s – that would be a good finish for us!”

Suarez was delighted to win the award alongside Gerrard, but insisted that his captain took home the trophy.

“This prize is more important for Stevie. I spoke with him about what we’re going to do with one prize because we’ve both won Player of the Month – but it’s for him for all he’s done in his career,” Suarez said. “It’s important because in the last few games, he’s scored important goals. All of the players have tried their best on the pitch and if you have a really good team and squad on the pitch, you have a chance.”


“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.