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PLAY IT SHORT: Suarez no hard man; Moyes must drop RvP; Silva sparked Chelsea meltdown; Mou can tempt Balotelli

SUAREZ NO HARD MANBrendan Rodgers must not be allowed to redefine what it means to be a 'hard man' in football. After the great Liverpool traditions of Tommy Smith, Graeme Souness, Jimmy Case and Terry McDermott, Rodgers claims Luis Suarez deserves to sit in the same company. He makes the case for the Uruguayan over the kicking he gets during games. But there's a Scouser playing on the south coast by the name of Ricki Lambert who also cops a hammering - and has the battle scars from playing below his level in the Football League to show for it. All earned away from the TV cameras. Yet, the Southampton centre-forward is no diver - and no moaner. Only last week, former Reds striker Neil Mellor revealed to talkSPORT that he'd upset past managers by refusing to dive. That should remain the culture at Anfield. Suarez is a wonderful player, among the best in the world. But hard man? Calm down, will ya Brendan!

SILVA INSPIRED CHELSEA CHAOSDavid Silva single-handedly turned the title race on it's head on Saturday. With captain Vincent Kompany back in the away dressing room and Hull City's attack running rings around Martin Demichelis, Manchester City were on the wrack before Silva's wonderful opening goal. And it was his superb pass that saw Edin Dzeko put the game beyond Hull late in the second-half. A couple of hours later, Chelsea had gone into meltdown at Villa Park. You wonder whether tempers would have become so frayed if not for Silva's individual brilliance at the KC earlier in the day.

MOURINHO TEMPTS BALOTELLI TO THE BRIDGEMario Balotelli looks like he's just marking time at AC Milan. Slaughtered by pundits in the local media and past Rossoneri greats after he went walkabout against Atletico Madrid, Balotelli's mind appears elsewhere. And with no Champions League football next season, a team needing a massive overhaul and under the guidance of a rookie coach, Milan just isn't the platform for a player of Balotelli's talent. Jose Mourinho does nothing off the cuff and his comments last week about hoping to work again with the former Manchester City striker went down well inside the Balotelli camp. Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa are regarded as Mou's top striker targets this summer, but don't rule out a reunion with his former Inter Milan protégé. Indeed, it's understood the Chelsea manager's push to add Inter skipper Javier Zanetti to his staff was done with Balotelli in mind. If a deal does happen, you can expect a senior mentor from either the Nerazzurri or Milan to join the Chelsea backroom team to keep Balotelli in check.

MOYES NOT FORGETTING POWELLDavid Moyes is still assessing his squad, even at this stage of the season. Having recalled Jesse Lingard from Birmingham City, Moyes took a couple of weeks to take a close look at the midfielder before sending him away again, this time to Brighton. And last week, after getting a call from Uwe Rosler, the Wigan Athletic manager, he made it to the DW to see Nick Powell inspire the Latics to victory over Birmingham in his first appearance since January. While Moyes is willing to spend big in the Bundesliga to strengthen his midfield options, he's also considered long and hard with the likes of Steve Round and Phil Neville the merits of those players now just emerging from the U21 ranks. Powell and Lingard were rated highly by Sir Alex Ferguson, who nagged and nagged Dario Gradi, Crewe Alexandra's legendary coaching chief, to sell him Powell two years ago. But so were Ryan Tunnicliffe and Larnell Cole, who were shunted off to Fulham in January. Powell and Lingard have a real chance in the game, but Moyes, as he showed with Mats Daehli last summer, will be ruthless if he doesn't feel they're up to scratch.

PELLEGRINI PULLED BACK FROM BRINK OF DISASTERIt was squeaky bum time for Manuel Pellegrini at the KC. In a week when Manchester City had been humiliated at home in the FA Cup and dumped out of the Champions League, things weren't getting any better ten minutes into their game at Hull City after Vincent Kompany saw red. Pellegrini seemed frozen to the spot. As Kompany made his way past the dugout, none of the manager's staff approached the captain. Instead, it was left to Aleksander Kolarov, who was among the substitutes, to put an arm around the Belgian before the big defender took out his frustration on the door leading into the players' race. In the end, two magical moments from David Silva sealed the three points for City. But for a short period, before Silva's opening goal, the strain of a desperate week had Pellegrini wobbling.

MOYES MUST DROP RvPDavid Moyes must be bold against Olympiacos and drop Robin van Persie for Manchester United's Champions League decider. Officially, United went down to ten men against Liverpool on 77 minutes, but with the ineffective Van Persie, the hosts had been playing a man down from the first minute. Claims that the Dutchman is attempting to play his way to a transfer are wide of the mark. But the former Arsenal captain is hopelessly out of form. You can see he's trying, but nothing is falling for him. Danny Welbeck is in good touch and is a better foil for Wayne Rooney. Moyes needs to take a risk on Wednesday night and that should be selecting Welbeck ahead of Van Persie.

DELPH REPUTATION GROWSFabian Delph for England? The Aston Villa midfielder was outstanding for victory over Chelsea, but injury has left his run too late. Delph has everything needed in his locker to be a modern, box-to-box midfielder - and he's a leader. If he'd been injury free for the past 18 months, you'd fancy he'd already be part of Roy Hodgson's squad. But he'll be on the radar for next season's Euro qualifiers. Hodgson is already drawing up a list of new potential caps, with Burnley pair Kieran Trippier and Danny Ings watched last week. Delph will also be high on that shortlist. Indeed, he may miss out on Brazil, but it will be no surprise if Villa's resolve is tested in the summer for the former Leeds United trainee.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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