Belfast Telegraph

Downing hoping to maintain momentum

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing hopes the international break will not have affected the team's momentum as they head into a home clash with arch-rivals Manchester United on Saturday.

The Reds bounced back from successive defeats - their first of the season - to beat Wolves and near-neighbours Everton. But the victory over their Merseyside rivals was almost a fortnight ago now and with most players, including Downing, having been away with their national teams, the break may have done more harm than good.

"It's a tough game but we'll look forward to it and if we keep playing the way we are then we've got a chance of beating anyone," said Downing. "If we beat Manchester United we'll say the break did us good. If we don't people will point the finger and say the break killed us a bit."

Manager Kenny Dalglish will lock horns with Sir Alex Ferguson again after their two clashes last season finished with one victory apiece. United won the FA Cup third-round tie, just hours after Dalglish had replaced Roy Hodgson, but Liverpool maintained their Anfield winning streak with a 3-1 win courtesy of a Dirk Kuyt hat-trick.

The rivalry between the two Glaswegian managers dates back to the mid-1980s when Dalglish was Reds boss first time around. However, the Liverpool manager was keen to point out there is nothing personal in his determination to beat United again.

"I'm not egotistical, I'm not in this to get one over anyone else," he said. "I don't have any individual contest with Fergie. This football club is more important than me and always will be. Head-to-head (against Ferguson)? I wouldn't have a clue what the score is in that and it doesn't really matter to me."

Saturday is the first anniversary of Fenway Sports Group's purchase of the club after the dysfunctional reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Principal owner John Henry and Reds chairman Tom Werner will be at Anfield for the United match and Dalglish was keen to praise the way the pair had conducted themselves over the last 12 months.

"The greatest compliment I can pay to them is that they're as good as the people who ran the club the first time I was here," said Dalglish.

"That's a hell of a statement because the people who ran the club then, Sir John Smith and Peter Robinson, were two of the best any football club could ever have had. John, Tom Werner and the rest of the investors that have supported this football club have been absolutely fantastic.

"As a manager everything you look to find in a good owner they have. They have been fantastically supportive honourable, honest and respectful - everything that you would want - and we are very fortunate to have them."


From Belfast Telegraph