Kop MD joins the calls for calm at United tie
Published 20:30 26/01/12 By MirrorFootball
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre insists fans and players alike must ensure the focus is on football when they meet Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Feelings between are running high in the wake of Luis Suarez's eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
Rumours abound about what will be worn, written and chanted at Anfield but Ayre stressed that, although he did not want the arch-rivalry to be diluted, there was no place for hatred.
"It is the FA Cup, a great competition in English football and one we have a great history in and we want that to be what everyone focuses on," said Ayre.
"We have massive rivalry with Manchester United but those who are respectful also have respect for them because they are a great footballing side and team and like us they have been very successful.
"We mustn't detract from fans chanting and singing at each other but it needs to be a rivalry thing rather than a hatred thing.
"It is about a great spirit and a match between two great teams and it is certainly not hatred - there is no place for hatred in football."
In the past rival fans have traded insults with sickening songs about the Munich air crash and the Hillsborough disaster.
The Suarez affair will only have heightened tensions and encouraged some supporters' tribal instincts further but Ayre stressed there had to be boundaries.
"The banter on the terraces is great, both managers feel that as do the players," he told BBC Radio Merseyside.
"Far from trying to neutralise it we want our fans to be as vocal as they normally are against Manchester United.
"We definitely don't want to detract from that but both clubs have histories which have some things in people don't want to hear being sung about and so we want the fans to get behind the team, have a bit of fun and enjoy the game."
The glamour tie of the round between two of the world's best-supported clubs is sure to attract a massive global audience and Ayre believes, in the light of criticism of how they handled their defence of Suarez, it presents a chance to redress some opinions.
"Everyone has a role to play, just as we have a role to play at the club," he added.
"On Saturday it is about the fans representing Liverpool Football Club on the terraces, supporting the team and manager.
"It is not about some sort of hatred for Manchester United - we all have that passion and want to beat them but it starts and finishes there.
"The world will be watching and we want the world to know Liverpool is a great club with great supporters.
"There is a lot of attention on this game, in some ways for all the wrong reasons, and we should see that as an opportunity.
"There have been a lot people with a perceptions about Liverpool in last month or so, making comments which are wrong, and what our fans, players and manager have a chance to do is put that right.
"We are a great club with a great set of supporters and that is what people should see."