It's going to be emotional: Fergie vows to back Liverpool as Anfield prepares to host first match since Hillsborough report
14:48 GMT, 18 September 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson has promised Liverpool total support ahead of what he accepts will be an emotional Premier League encounter with Manchester United on Sunday.
The game will be the first to be played at Anfield since the damning report on the Hillsborough tragedy was released last Wednesday, placing the blame for the disaster, in which 96 people died, on South Yorkshire Police and other services.
Yet the chants of a few United fans during Saturday’s win over Wigan at Old Trafford highlighted the potential for trouble.
Waterboy: Ferguson carries the drinks as United train at Carrington on Tuesday
Ferguson, who has already appealed for a line to be drawn in the sand by supporters of both clubs, has offered Liverpool unqualified support.
'It is going to be a very emotional day on Sunday and we will support them in every way we can,' said Ferguson.
'As a club we are totally supportive of Liverpool in the situation they are in. We understand what those families must have felt when they got that report.
'I didn’t hear it (on Saturday), but others did, particularly in the directors’ box. (Chief executive) David Gill was disappointed.'
Gearing up: United prepare for their Champions League encounter with Galatasaray
Some fans have argued the chant heard on Saturday – 'Always the victim, never your fault' – was only sung in the immediate aftermath of Luis Suarez’s racism spat with Patrice Evra.
'It is a new chant that only started after the Suarez situation,' said Ferguson.
'I was disappointed to hear it. It is a minority. But in society there is a minority wanting to be heard.'
Ferguson’s comments come on the eve of a report being released by MPs stating football’s authorities need to do more to tackle racism and discrimination within the game.
Backing: Ferguson was talking to the media at Old Trafford on Tuesday
The triggers for that investigation were the high-profile issues involving Suarez and Evra, and also John Terry and Anton Ferdinand.
The latter case is yet to be fully resolved, with Terry due to face the FA later this month after he was cleared of a criminal charge earlier this year.
Ferdinand’s refusal to shake Terry’s hand at Loftus Road on Saturday confirms the matter continues to cast a stain on the game.
Suarez’s failure to shake Evra’s hand at Old Trafford last season brings added tension to this weekend’s fixture, with Ferguson insisting a bad 12 months for the game should not be allowed to obscure the positive work that has taken place.
'English football has been very good in challenging these issues,' said Ferguson.
Praise: Ferguson believes English football has dealt well with issues such as racism
'Last year was a bad year for the sport but hopefully we get back to normal.
'I don’t know what the report is going to say but until last year I don’t think it has been an issue.
'I haven’t seen anything for 20 years.
'One bad year doesn’t cast the game in doubt as far as I am concerned.
'I am sure it will be brushed aside and we will go back to normal.'