FOOTBALL NEWS

21/09/2012 12:28, Report by J Tuck, G Thompson
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Sir Alex seeks Anfield focus

Sir Alex Ferguson expects a highly-charged atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday but hopes the emotion of the occasion will not get the better of his players.

United travel to Merseyside 11 days after an independent panel cleared Liverpool fans of any wrongdoing in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed 96 lives.

Sir Alex has since stated his club’s unequivocal support for Liverpool and, recognising the significance of the game, he wants his men to focus on their own performance.

The Reds boss recalled the Manchester derby of February 2008 when, after a poignant Old Trafford tribute to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, United’s players could not get going and slipped to a 2-1 defeat.

When asked if the build-up to the game could affect the players, he admitted: "It’s a possibility, I don’t deny that. Human nature can be that way.

"For instance, 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 we were just glad to get it out the way because it was such an emotional day for us. It could be that way on Sunday.

"But I don’t think we should get into that now. I think we should let the players get on with it. There is enough pressure on them at the moment anyway. Liverpool have done their bit and we’ve done our bit, so let the game go on.

"It's an important game for both clubs, so hopefully we can just concentrate now on it being a good football match and hopefully we can put on our best performance."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will also be seeking a strong showing from his side, who have failed to win any of their four league games at the start of his tenure.

Sir Alex defended his counterpart, saying: "He’s a young manager and any young manager needs time. But in the modern world you don't get a lot of time.

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