TWO of the biggest rivals in English football meet on Sunday (today) when Manchester United welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford. But Alex Ferguson has chosen not to issue his traditional pre-match call for calm.
Instead, the United manager has drawn a line under the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra race row which erupted in October 2011 and continued when the pair failed to shake hands when they last met in Manchester just under a year ago.
“There will always be a certain build-up to a Manchester United and Liverpool games,” said Ferguson. “That’s simply because of the history between the two clubs, the two most successful in the country. It brings its own agenda in terms of profile and pre-match discussion.
“Last year it was unfortunate with the Suarez behavior. But I think hopefully it’s behind both clubs now and we can just look forward to the game.”
United’s visit to Liverpool earlier in the season coincided with the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and, despite a couple of unsavoury incidents, both sets of supporters behaved themselves. United also donated their tracksuits, emblazoned with the number 96 in memory of the Hillsborough victims, to charity.
“As a result of the apparent cooling in the temperature between the two clubs, there are no plans on this occasion for Ferguson to appeal to the United supporters for respect towards their traditional rivals in terms of unsavoury chanting, as the Scot did prior to the fixture at Anfield in September,” reports the Daily Telegraph.
The news comes as United and Liverpool fans also prepare to set aside their differences and work together on a campaign to reduce ticket prices for away supporters, although that does not mean the travelling Kop will be politely welcomed at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers appeared to have taken a sly dig at Manchester by announcing that he wanted to build his side around local ‘Scouse’ talent, and pointed out that United’s biggest star came from Liverpool.
The Guardian reports that he named the two best players in England as Steven Gerrard and fellow Liverpudlian Wayne Rooney – who happens to play for United. “You are not telling me there is not top young talent out there in Liverpool,” he said.