Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says Luis
Suarez is “laden with controversy” ahead of Sunday’s
meeting with Liverpool.
Suarez heads to Old Trafford having been criticised for using
his hand before scoring the Reds’ second goal in their 2-1 FA
Cup win at Mansfield.
“I don’t know whether he enjoys [being controversial], but it
is something we hope we don’t suffer from ourselves,”
Ferguson said of Suarez, who was banned for eight games in
2011 for racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra.
That incident, for which he was also fined £40,000, occurred
during the fierce rivals’ 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Suarez subsequently refused to shake hands with Evra before
United’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in February 2012.
In the wake of last weekend’s controversy at Field Mill, the
Uruguayan was accused of “stealing” the FA Cup tie by
Mansfield’s chief executive Carolyn Radford.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has consistently spoken of
his belief in Suarez, though, and criticised his treatment by
officials and opposing fans.
“I never saw the game last Sunday, so it is difficult to say
whether it was a deliberate handball,” said Ferguson.
“You will always support your own player, I don’t think that is
surprising from Brendan.
“I have done it myself. It is just part of your loyalty to the
player and protection for them too.
“I hope we don’t suffer from some of the decisions that have
gone his way in terms of that. We want it to be a good game on
“Over the years, the Liverpool-Manchester United games have
been relatively free of controversy – nothing really
sensational in terms of decisions that marred the game, and
that is good.”
However, former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, who scored
183 goals in 369 games for Liverpool, disagreed with
Ferguson’s comments about Suarez.
“He didn’t really need to say too much in my eyes,” Fowler
told BBC Sport.
“Suarez is a condemned man before he even steps on the pitch.
As much as he is getting stick from everyone else, I think it’s
driving him on and making him a better player. He wants to
prove a lot to people wrong and show how good he is.”
Fowler added: “Every player will have mishaps in a game. Robin
van Persie was accused of elbowing someone earlier in the
season. Gareth Bale has been accused of being a diver at
times. Luis Suarez does have some misdemeanours in his past
but I want to go on the positives. I love him as a player.”
Liverpool go into the game having lost seven of their past eight
visits to Old Trafford – a memorable 4-1 victory in March
2009 the only positive result.
But Ferguson insists it will never be easy. “Derby games are
very tricky affairs, as they always have been,” he added.
“The previous year we outplayed them in the cup and lost 2-1.
You are sitting at the end of the game saying, ‘How did that
happen?’ Derby games are like that. Hopefully we will play well
Ferguson also served a reminder to Liverpool fans that it may
be some time before they return to the top of the English
“The club at the moment is a hell of a challenge because they
haven’t won the league for 20 years. It is a long time,” he
“It is difficult to measure any Liverpool side at the moment
with any Liverpool side of the past.
“I think it is terrific if the Liverpool fans are prepared to be
patient because it is going to require patience. It is a long
road back to what they used to be.”
Van Persie is likely to be a key player again on Sunday and
Ferguson admitted that the Dutchman’s decision to join the
club had been vital, even in the face of strong interest from
other clubs, including Manchester City.
“I wasn’t aware of the City thing until he told me himself that
he had turned them down,” Ferguson added.
Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.