Fears that the FA Cup fourth-round match between Liverpool and Manchester United could descend into further bitterness and acrimony has led the English FA to write to both clubs asking them not to inflame the situation.
Both managers, Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson, will be told to steer clear of comments that could lead to problems.
Luis Suarez will not be on the field when the two teams meet on the cup weekend of January 28-29, but the aftermath of his encounter with Patrice Evra -- and his subsequent conviction on a charge of directing the word 'negro' towards the United defender -- during the teams' last match will hang over the tie.
The FA will speak to both clubs before the game at Anfield. Any problems could be exacerbated by the fact United should be supported by a sizeable away following of around 6,000.
Discussions between Liverpool FC, the city council and Merseyside Police yesterday should lead to the allocation rising from the 1,690 who saw October's controversial Premier League game. The good conduct of United fans at that fixture has meant that those restrictions have been lifted.
Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre yesterday made the first move to take the sting out of the fixture.
"With all that's gone on, people will talk about it and talk about it, but I think the most important thing for us is to make sure that we make it a great day," Ayre said.
"We need to all work together to make sure everybody concentrates on the excitement of the football and the FA Cup and not on anything else." (© Independent News Service)