Friday, April 30, 2010

Support for Liverpool from a very unusual source

Sir Alex Ferguson is confident Liverpool will not "throw away their history" by standing aside for Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday.

Manchester United head into the penultimate weekend of the campaign knowing their last realistic chance of overhauling Carlo Ancelotti's side depends on Liverpool avoiding defeat this weekend.

If Chelsea are denied maximum points, United can seize the advantage by beating Sunderland at the Stadium of Light a couple of hours later.

All this has been noted at an increasingly agitated Liverpool.

And quite apart from drawing a veil on what has been a disastrous season for the Merseyside giants, that took another downturn last night with a Europa League semi-final exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid, the sub-plot is United attempting to clinch a record 19th league championship.

That would eclipse Liverpool, a situation that seemed impossible when Ferguson came south from Aberdeen in 1986.

It has led a number of Liverpool supporters to voice their desire for their team to lose, even though it would cost them what slender chance they still have of finishing in the Champions League places.

Ferguson cannot see that eventuality and is convinced Liverpool have too much to lose by not trying.

"I am confident they will do their maximum," he said.

"Great clubs don't throw their history and traditions away for one game.

"They have been in 11 European finals. They have won 18 titles.

"That is a fantastic history. You don't throw that away. The fans know that too.

"Do you think the fans want to go home saying their players capitulated and they didn't try and thinking it wouldn't happen again?"

There is a precedent. On the last day in 1995, United headed to West Ham knowing it would take a victory at Upton Park and a Liverpool win over Blackburn at Anfield to give them the title.

Given Kenny Dalglish was the Blackburn manager, the attachment was arguably even greater.

As it turned out, Liverpool did their job, but United were unable to capitalise.

"We were depending on Liverpool producing - and they did," recalled Ferguson.

"You have to earn a right to win the title. Okay, there were a lot of English players in their team that day and they understood the history of Liverpool FC.

"But I don't think there has been such a swing that the current players do not understand the history of Liverpool."

They presumably also know they are tired, weary and unhappy given they slogged through 120 minutes last night before falling to Diego Forlan's extra-time decider.

It leaves Rafael Benitez in a similar position to the one Ferguson found himself in when United crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich.

And it also gave the United boss a chance to air his long-held view about the Premier League not giving any assistance to clubs sidetracked by European commitments.

"It is difficult to say how Liverpool's players will feel," said Ferguson. "It is Rafa's job to prepare his players.

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