Monday, 17 September 2012

Give a little respect

Liverpool and Manchester United go head to head for the 186th time on Sunday in what could prove to be the most pivotal instalment to date.

Twenty-three years after the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool fans were cleared of all wrongdoing on Wednesday. Unfortunately, that didn't stop a minority of United supporters from continuing to point the finger, whether wholeheartedly or not, at Old Trafford on Saturday.

'Always the victims, it's never your fault', a chant aimed at Liverpool since the Patrice Evra-Luis Suarez incident in the corresponding fixture last season, could be heard from certain sections of the crowd during United's 4-0 win over Wigan.

Manchester United fan Francis makes some very heartfelt comments about Hillsborough chanting at Old Trafford: 

If distasteful slurs of this nature are echoed during Sunday's showdown at Anfield, it could have a seriously negative impact on one of English football's healthiest rivalries.

When these two clubs meet, the eyes of the world are inevitably watching. This match represents all that is great about the Premier League. It's a healthy rivalry because both clubs appreciate what their counterparts have contributed to the English game.

Amid all the hatred, jealousy and bitterness lies a mutual respect. This needs to shine through more than ever on Sunday. No references to the Hillsborough disaster by the United fans and no references to the Munich air disaster by the Liverpool fans. The headlines on Monday morning ought to be about the match itself and nothing else.

The confrontation between Evra and Suarez could well reignite if both players feature, however, such was the impression that left-back Alexander Büttner made on his United debut, Sir Alex Ferguson may well opt to leave out the 31-year-old Frenchman.

The United boss will unquestionably understand the sensitivity of the fixture and may see an opportunity to take the edge off the atmosphere by keeping Evra on the sidelines.

The more focus there is on the football, the better.

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