Football: Fergie Calls on Fans to End Hatred
Manchester. Sir Alex Ferguson hopes the recent revelations surrounding the Hillsborough tragedy will bring an end to the hatred between Manchester United and Liverpool supporters.
United visit Anfield on Sept. 23 for a fixture which has often been scarred by tasteless hostility between fans from both clubs.
Over the years, United supporters have been accused of chanting songs about the Hillsborough disaster, which took the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, while Mancunians have been on the receiving end of taunts over the 1958 Munich air disaster, which saw several of the club’s players perish.
But this week’s report into the 1989 FA Cup semi-final disaster, which clearly exonerated Liverpool fans of any role in the tragedy, has brought the issue of fans’ behaviour into even sharper focus and Ferguson believes supporters will respond accordingly.
“It shouldn’t need what’s happened during the week to do that,” Ferguson said on Friday. “We are the two great clubs, ourselves and Liverpool. They should understand each other’s problems over the past. But the fact we’re playing them after the findings we’ve been reading about the past couple of days does bring a focus to it.
“Both clubs have suffered tremendous fatalities through football and you would hope that maybe this is the line in the sand in terms of how supporters behave towards one another,” he added. “Certainly the reputation of both clubs doesn’t deserve that. You hope fans do behave themselves, support their team and that would be the end of it. We will see.”
On football matters, meanwhile, Ferguson is happy with the continued progress of the Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher, who was included in the United squad for the weekend fixture against Wigan.
Fletcher has not played for the first team since Nov. 2011 when he was diagnosed as suffering from a bowel disease which seemed likely to bring a premature end to his career.
However, Fletcher has responded well to treatment and changes in diet and has now played a number of reserve games and was also included in United’s squad for the coming Champions League campaign.
“Darren Fletcher is training very well and played in the reserves on Monday night,” Ferguson said. “Obviously the next step we should take is when we can involve him in a game with the first team.
“He’s in the squad for Wigan, simply because I think it will give him a boost and it just charts the progress he has made,” he added. “At this moment in time, everything is looking fine for him. But we understand the type of condition he has to deal with and it could change. But hopefully he has managed to conquer it in terms of his diet, how he handles it.”
Ferguson also paid tribute to three of his senior squad who are on the brink of landmark games going into the Wigan fixture, with Ryan Giggs set to make his 600th Premier League appearance for the club, Paul Scholes due to appear in his 700th match in all competitions and defender Rio Ferdinand on the verge of his 400th United game in all competitions.
“That question has surfaced a lot over the years since they started creating these type of records,” said Ferguson when asked how Giggs, 38, and Scholes, 37, remain at the top of the game.
“My own personal feeling is Ryan could probably play another couple of years, looking at him.
“Paul Scholes is a different physical specimen than Ryan and he’s had his injuries over the last few years, two knee injuries, had his eye injury. Yet he’s playing his 700th game, which is phenomenal.
“Rio Ferdinand is playing his 400th, so it’s a landmark for three key players which is a great example for younger players, what can be achieved if you make sacrifices in the game of football.”