Liverpool and Utd set for peace talks
Officials from Liverpool and Manchester United will hold peace talks over the next few weeks in a bid to calm relations between the two clubs ahead of their potentially acrimonious FA Cup tie.
Relations between the two Premier League clubs are currently at a low ebb, following the high-profile dispute between Reds striker Luis Suarez and United full-back Patrice Evra that resulted in the Uruguay international being banned for eight games after being found guilty of racially abusing the Frenchman.
Considering all that, a fourth round fixture between the sides was probably the last thing either the two clubs or the Football Association wanted, but that was exactly what happened when the draw was made on Sunday - with Liverpool set to host their rivals at the end of January.
That has made the need for peace talks between both clubs even greater - with Suarez also set to travel to Old Trafford in the league in one of his first games back after suspension. When asked about sitting down for clear-the-air talks with Liverpool last week, however, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was dismissive.
The Scot is still believed to be angry with the way the Anfield club attempted to discredit Evra's testimony during Suarez's hearing - for which there has been no apology.
"It's nice of them to do it through the press," Ferguson noted dryly, when asked about talks between the clubs. "You would have thought they would have come to Manchester United. But I don't see why there is any need for that, to be honest."
However, it now appears the two clubs will make a concerted attempt to resolve their differences, recognising it could prove crucial in the bid to ensure the match passes off without major problems.
Former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen has called on both managers to try and set an example for fans ahead of the game, hoping to avoid any unpleasant incidents in the stands as well as on the pitch.
"The time has come for the negativity to stop with Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson needing to be at the forefront of moves to improve the relationship between the two clubs," Hansen said in the Telegraph. "When Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield later this month, it will be a huge game for the reputations of both clubs around the world and one which will demand that the leading figures at Anfield and Old Trafford rise above all the hostility of recent weeks.
"What matters now is that there are no attempts at point-scoring by either club ahead of the Cup tie and the managers are central to that.
"Liverpool and United are the biggest two clubs in English football, they are globally recognised because of their history and tradition, but now is the time for them to prove it with their actions in the build-up to this game."
The match at Anfield might not be the only controversial tie of the fourth round, however - as Anton Ferdinand and QPR will host John Terry and his Chelsea team-mates if they can beat MK Dons in a third round replay.
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