Fergie offers olive branch to Liverpool
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping to extend the hand of friendship to Liverpool again now that Rafael Benitez has gone. Roy Hodgson has become the seventh Reds boss during Ferguson's time at Manchester United. Despite the intense rivalry between the two North-West giants, Ferguson has tended to enjoy a harmonious relationship with his managerial counterpart. That was not the case with Benitez. The Spaniard became increasingly fixated on Ferguson, claiming at one point that the United manager was treated with kid gloves by the game's authorities compared to everyone else. Ferguson did have one public attack on Benitez, over what was perceived to be a "disrespectful" 'game over' signal during an encounter with Sam Allardyce's Blackburn, but largely seemed content to let Benitez vent his spleen without response. "I have never been personal. You have to examine him, not me," said Ferguson, referring to Benitez's conduct. "I have always enjoyed a good relationship with Liverpool managers. Both clubs have always addressed the situation properly after the games. "That changed under the last regime. It is not a big issue for me." Clearly, Ferguson has an immense amount of respect for Hodgson, a man he first encountered in 1987 on what turned out to be an otherwise fruitless trip to Sweden. "I have known him for a long time," revealed Ferguson. "I first met him in 1987 when I went on an aborted trip to Malmo. "It was a European tie against Ajax and they abandoned it after one minute. He was at the game and we went for dinner afterwards. "Roy has gathered a wealth of experience in Italy, Switzerland and Finland and the job he did at Fulham was absolutely extraordinary." In what Ferguson still regards as the biggest fixture in the Premier League calendar, even though Liverpool have not won the title for over two decades now, United have endured some miserable times recently. Prior to their Old Trafford triumph in March, the Red Devils had lost three games on the trot against their rivals, new skipper Nemanja Vidic getting sent off in them all. Having rested Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard from Thursday night's Europa League win over Steaua Bucharest, Hodgson has kept his key men fresh. Torres in particular will hope to hit form again after a troubled start to the season, with Ferguson accepting United will have to be wary. "We have made a couple of mistakes defensively," he agreed. "But these fixtures fluctuate. "Some periods we have been the dominant team, then they go on a little run. "You are talking about two great teams, the most successful in Britain. These games are very hard to predict."
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