Ferguson urges old enemy to aid United's quest for history

Manager backs Anfield outfit to beat Chelsea and help deliver record crown to Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson has delivered an unvarnished message to Liverpool to assist his own side's title prospects, invoking the history of the club he has always despised, as he urged them to see off Chelsea at Anfield tomorrow afternoon.

The question ahead of Ferguson's press conference was not so much whether he would try out some psychological weaponry on Rafael Benitez as which form. Two years ago, he needled Gary Megson's Bolton into drawing at Chelsea, but United's pursuit of the 19th title which has eluded Liverpool for so long demanded a more subtle approach.

"I am confident," he said, when talk turned to Liverpool, "not trying." "I have to be confident. Great clubs don't throw their history away. They don't throw their traditions away for one game." He recalled the 1994/95 finale when Liverpool's defeat of Blackburn Rovers would have handed United the title had they not stumbled at West Ham on the last day.

"There are many similarities with 1995," said Ferguson, who raised the prospect of Wayne Rooney shaking off his groin injury to be available for United's match at Sunderland which kicks off an hour after the Liverpool tie has finished. "We depended and hoped for Liverpool producing, and we got it. I remember Roy Evans talking to me and saying, 'You have to earn the right to win a title' and that stands today. OK, there were a lot of English players in that Liverpool team who understood the history of the club very well, but I don't think that has such a swing that the players don't understand the history of Liverpool. They have been in 10 European finals [11, to be precise], won 18 titles, so that's a fantastic history. You don't throw that away. And the fans know that to. Do you think their fans want to go home, saying that their team capitulated and didn't even try? Of course not."

When the deflation Liverpool's players will be feeling after their Europa League semi-final defeat was put to him, Ferguson declared it was "Rafa's job to lift his players," adding: "I've been there myself, when we lost to Bayern Munich [in the Champions League quarter-final] and the way we lost, it was a difficult job to raise the players but you have to do it. That is your job. You cannot wallow in pity at this club." Given that an anaemic United laboured to a goalless draw at Blackburn after their European exit to the Germans, it was not the best of comparisons.

Yet Benitez has significant reasons of his own for wanting a performance, even though Ferguson might not be enthused to know his old rival feels the fixture planners have dealt United an unfair advantage by allowing them to play their fixture later.

"Normally the last two games in Spain everybody plays at the same time so everybody is in the same position," Benitez said. "Here it will be different so everybody will know what is going on. What time do [United] play? Later than us and Chelsea"

Ferguson announced that his club captain Gary Neville had been handed a new one-year contract, though concerns persist about Rio Ferdinand, whom he hinted might not be able to train yesterday. "We'll see how [he and Rooney] do. The fact Wayne missed last week's game allowed the ankle to settle, so we don't have any issues with that now. But groin injuries are groin injuries and, at this time of year when grounds become firm, it can become an issue. If he comes through today it gives us something to think of for Sunday, though."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot