Monday 20 November 2017

Phelan: Rivalry won't get nasty

MANCHESTER UNITED assistant boss Mike Phelan is confident the usual animosity between rival fans at tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Liverpool at Anfield will not spill over into something more sinister.

It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since Patrice Evra made the racism allegations against Luis Suarez that ended with the Reds forward receiving an eight-match ban.

Liverpool's conduct around the dispute was called into question, although more recently they have made strenuous efforts to confirm racist incidents will not be tolerated.

At Anfield on Wednesday night, during the Carling Cup semi-final with Manchester City, supporters sang, "We're not racist, we only hate Mancs", and tensions are not likely to be eased by in excess of 5,000 United fans at the game.

Police and security will be out in force, though, and Phelan believes the encounter will pass off peacefully. "I am sure supporters will take care of their responsibilities," he said.

Apart from the side-show of supporter antipathy, the two clubs have taken part in some fierce FA Cup battles down the years. United have come out on top in nine of the 16 encounters, including the 1977 and 2006 finals.

"Looking back over the years, Manchester United against Liverpool has always been a fabulous fixture," said Phelan.

"At Old Trafford, it is something special. But when you go to Anfield, it brings all those years of heartache and joy back.

"We have had some good results there, we have had some poor ones. Hopefully we can get the right one this weekend."

Manager Alex Ferguson has doubts over Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney and Nani.

The Portugal winger is thought to be the greatest worry, with fears he suffered damage to his foot during last Sunday's win at Arsenal that could rule him out for at least two months.

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