Monday 11 December 2017

Fergie: We acted with dignity during racism row

Mark Ogden and Chris Bascombe

Alex Ferguson claims the time has come to draw a line under the Patrice Evra-Luis Suarez racism row after accusing Liverpool of saying "plenty" on the issue while Manchester United kept their "dignity."

With Uruguay forward Suarez set to face Evra and United today for the first time since being given an eight-match suspension for racially abusing the French defender, Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish, have insisted they have no concerns over the ability of the two players to handle the occasion.

Despite Dalglish confidently backing Suarez's mental strength when dealing with an anticipated hostile reception today, the Liverpool manager reiterated the sense of persecution felt at Anfield.

He claimed earlier this week that the former Ajax forward should not have been suspended, even though the player admitted to calling Evra 'negro' during the league game on Merseyside on October 15.

Dalglish's comments on the issue since October have dismayed both United and the Football Association, but with the two clubs set to meet for the final time this season when they tackle each other at lunchtime, Ferguson believes enough has been said about the Evra-Suarez situation.

"We've just got on with our job," Ferguson said. "We've kept our dignity throughout and we're just concentrating on the game. They (Liverpool) have said plenty, haven't they? But we've kept our counsel and it's the right thing to do in these situations. We will keep it that way too.

"Why didn't they appeal (against Suarez's ban)? I think we are better putting that to bed to be honest. We have so many important issues coming up. We are chasing Manchester City in the league."

Suarez's failure to offer a direct apology to Evra continues to hang over the affair, but with both players due to shake hands in the pre-match Fair Play handshake today, Ferguson, who has handed Ryan Giggs a new one-year contract, admits neither he nor United can influence Liverpool or Suarez in terms of an expression of regret.

"That is not our domain," Ferguson said. "There is nothing we can do about these things. Patrice has handled it well. I don't think he enjoyed the abuse he got at Anfield (in last month's FA Cup tie), but it happens. We expected that and so did Patrice. He handled it quite well."

The uncomfortable anticipation of the pre-match handshake could be avoided if Suarez is named on the Liverpool substitutes' bench.

Dalglish admits he has yet to decide on whether to start the forward, who returned from suspension as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

"We will manage Luis in the same way as we manage the other players," Dalglish said. "If you had been out injured for six or seven weeks and came straight back in, you would be looking to be broken back in gently.

"Different people have different needs, but at least he is fit and available. The past is firmly behind. He will understand what top-class players are up against and how newsworthy they are. I am sure he will be able to handle it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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