sport

Patience is a virtue - Fergie

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Brendan Rodgers can count himself lucky if he gets the time needed to re-establish Liverpool as a top-flight force.

Rodgers' situation at Anfield has been likened to the one which Ferguson faced when he came south to take charge at Manchester United in 1986.

Then the United board kept faith with their man before the trophies start rolling in.

It seems Reds owner Jhn Henry needs to show similar resolve with Liverpool languishing in seventh spot, a massive 21 points adrift of their Premier League-leading rivals, who they visit on Sunday.

"Patience is a real commodity in football and if Brendan's getting that, then he's very lucky," said Ferguson.

"It's terrific if Liverpool fans are prepared to be patient because it's going to require it because it's a long way back to where they used to be.

"It is difficult to measure the Liverpool side of the moment against those teams of the past.

"They haven't won the league for more than 20 years. It's a long time for a club like Liverpool."

So, other than a fight to secure a top-four berth and a shot at next season's Champions League, pride is the motivating factor for a Liverpool side in which Luis Suarez can expect a hostile welcome as he returns to the ground where he snubbed Patrice Evra so publicly.

Trouble never seems to be far away from the 25-year-old, who was at the centre of more negative headlines at the weekend when he scored a goal at Mansfield that should clearly have been ruled out for handball.

"I didn't see the Mansfield game, so it's difficult to say if it was deliberate or not," said Ferguson.

"But I think the lad is laden with controversy. I don't know if he enjoys it or not."

Rodgers has already leapt to Suarez's defence, although Ferguson can see elements of his own management style in that.

"You're always going to support your own player," he said.

"That's not surprising from Brendan Rogers. I've done it myself.

"It's part of your loyalty and protection of the player."

Suarez's ability to attract negative headline contrasts sharply with that of Robin van Persie.

Both have made a significant impact this term, with Van Persie justifying Ferguson's gamble in spending 24million to secure a player entering the final year of his contract, although not, according to the United boss, to keep him out of Manchester City's clutches.

"He (Van Persie) told me himself that he turned them down," said Ferguson.

"Juventus made a massive offer to the boy. I thought they were our biggest threat. But fortunately he signed for us."