I know I can count on you! Ferguson pens letter in final plea to United fans ahead of Anfield clash
18:12 GMT, 21 September 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson has written a letter to Manchester United supporters attending Sunday's Premier League encounter with Liverpool.
The letter will be presented to fans as they enter the turnstiles and is a final plea aimed at getting them to behave themselves.
Earlier on Friday Ferguson spoke of the sensitivities surrounding the fixture, Liverpool's first at home since the damning judgement on the Hillsborough disaster was released last week.
Big test ahead: Sir Alex Ferguson speaks during a press conference at Carrington on Friday morning
And he wants an end to the baiting of Liverpool fans over the disaster, in which 96 people died.
As published by the club's official website, Ferguson's letter reads: 'Dear Supporter,
'The great support you gave the team here [at Anfield] last season has
seen our allocation back up to near-full levels. I want you to continue
that progress today.
'But today [Sunday] is about much
more than not blocking gangways. Today is about thinking hard about what
makes United the best club in the world.
Competitive: (left-right) Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Samed Yesil battle in training on Friday
Keen eye: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (second right) oversees training at Melwood
'Our rivalry with Liverpool is based
on a determination to come out on top – a wish to see us crowned the
best against a team that held that honour for so long.
'It cannot and should never be based
on personal hatred. Just 10 days ago, we heard the terrible, damning
truth about the deaths of 96 fans who went to watch their team try and
reach the FA Cup final and never came back.
'What happened to them should wake the conscience of everyone connected with the game.
'Our great club stands with our great
neighbours Liverpool today to remember that loss and pay tribute to
their campaign for justice. I know I can count on you to stand with us
in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.
'Yours sincerely, Sir Alex Ferguson.'
Respect: Everton and Newcastle showed their support on Monday for the 96 victims of the disaster
Ferguson admitted he could not
discount the emotion having a negative effect on his players. Liverpool
intend to mark the occasion with a number of significant gestures,
including a mosaic across three sides of the stadium.
And having gone through something
very similar four years ago on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air
disaster, the Red Devils boss accepts it may have a hidden impact.
Head and shoulders above: Luis Suarez in training
'It's a possibility, I don't deny that,' Ferguson said. 'Human nature can be that way.
'When we played Manchester City for
the 50th anniversary of Munich the place was so flat in the dressing
room before the game. I even felt it myself.
'We just couldn't perform and were
glad to get it out the way. It was such an emotional day for us and it
could be that way on Sunday.'
If the significance of the occasion cannot be understated, neither can the need for points.
Liverpool are yet to win since Brendan Rodgers' arrival and hover precariously over the relegation zone.
United have stabilised their campaign
with three successive victories since an opening weekend loss at
Everton, but they have failed to win any of their last five matches at
Anfield – their worst return for two decades.
'It's similar to when I came down here,' said Ferguson. 'We could beat Liverpool but we couldn't win the league.
'The motivation leans on the side of
Liverpool, particularly at Anfield. The crowd get behind them and they
make it a real competition in terms of challenges and tackles.
'We know that will happen on Sunday.
'Last season we handled them much
better. It was 1-1 in the league and nothing between the teams, then we
threw away the FA Cup tie.
'We were by the far better team that day. If we get that performance on Sunday we will be okay.'
Reds boss Rodgers has built an
impressive reputation through his time as a coach at Chelsea and
eye-catching managerial stints at Watford and Swansea.
Yet some are already starting to question whether the 39-year-old is the right man to occupy such a challenging role.
It reminds Ferguson of the position Andre Villas-Boas found himself in at Chelsea. And that did not end well for the Portuguese.
'Any young manager needs time but in the modern world you don't get a lot of that,' said Ferguson.
'Look at Villas-Boas at Chelsea last season. He was a young man who lasted about seven months.
'We're in an age where patience is not a realistic thing. It's just not there.'
Ferguson accepts times have changed
from his arrival at Old Trafford, where he was into his fourth year
before he finally managed to secure some silverware. But the key to
success remains the same. You have to win.
'The only route for any manager is success,' he said. 'It's a results industry so winning matches is important.
'It's a different game from when I started. There was less pressure.
'The world has changed. The press has changed. But I always felt I needed to win games.
'That's what you're in it for. It
doesn't matter whether you're managing Port Vale, Liverpool or
Manchester United, you have to get results.'
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Rodgers expects the game to be played in the right spirit.
He said: 'There has been dialogue all week. There is respect in terms of the traditions of both clubs. We want this day to be remembered for the right reasons before the game, and the footballing reasons.
'A lot of work has been done and hopefully Sunday will pass off peacefully and well and we can talk about the tributes and football.
'It is an emotionally-charged game. I wouldn't sit here and tell Liverpool supporters how to behave. I know how they have behaved over many years has been fantastic.
'These are well-educated supporters who value humanity. I have no issues or no problems there, the message has been clear, and from Sir Alex as well, in relation to his supporters.
'I am sure once we pay the tributes to the families we can get on with the football.'