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Sep 21, 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson pens letter to fans

Sir Alex Ferguson has written a letter to Manchester United supporters attending Sunday's Premier League encounter with Liverpool.

The letter will be presented to fans as they enter the turnstiles and is a final plea aimed at getting them to behave themselves.

Earlier Friday, Ferguson spoke of the sensitivities surrounding the fixture, Liverpool's first at home since the damning judgement on the Hillsborough disaster was released last week.

And he wants an end to the baiting of Liverpool fans over the disaster, in which 96 people died.

As published by www.manutd.com, Ferguson's letter reads:

"Dear Supporter,

"The great support you gave the team here [at Anfield] last season has seen our allocation back up to near-full levels. I want you to continue that progress today.

"But today [Sunday] is about much more than not blocking gangways. Today is about thinking hard about what makes United the best club in the world.

"Our rivalry with Liverpool is based on a determination to come out on top - a wish to see us crowned the best against a team that held that honour for so long.

"It cannot and should never be based on personal hatred. Just 10 days ago, we heard the terrible, damning truth about the deaths of 96 fans who went to watch their team try and reach the FA Cup final and never came back.

"What happened to them should wake the conscience of everyone connected with the game.

"Our great club stands with our great neighbours Liverpool today to remember that loss and pay tribute to their campaign for justice. I know I can count on you to stand with us in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.

"Yours sincerely, Sir Alex Ferguson."

Earlier Friday, Ferguson admitted he could not discount the emotion having a negative effect on his players.

Liverpool intend to mark the occasion with a number of significant gestures, including a mosaic across three sides of the stadium.

And having gone through something very similar four years ago on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, the Red Devils boss accepts it may have a hidden impact.

"It's a possibility, I don't deny that," Ferguson said. "Human nature can be that way. When we played Manchester City for the 50th anniversary of Munich the place was so flat in the dressing room before the game. I even felt it myself. We just couldn't perform and were glad to get it out the way. It was such an emotional day for us and it could be that way on Sunday."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said he expects the emotional clash with Manchester United to be remembered for the right reasons on and off the field.

"There has been dialog all week," Rodgers said. "There is respect in terms of the traditions of both clubs. We want this day to be remembered for the right reasons before the game, and the footballing reasons. A lot of work has been done and hopefully Sunday will pass off peacefully and well and we can talk about the tributes and football.

"It is an emotionally-charged game. I wouldn't sit here and tell Liverpool supporters how to behave. I know how they have behaved over many years has been fantastic. These are well-educated supporters who value humanity. I have no issues or no problems there, the message has been clear, and from Sir Alex as well, in relation to his supporters. I am sure once we pay the tributes to the families we can get on with the football."

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