Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has warned his players to cut out the errors as they prepare for Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.
With United dropping points conceding late goals to Fulham and Everton, Ferguson said: “To lose two points in added time once is bad luck.
“But twice this early in the season is downright careless and it has to stop.”
Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson is relishing the prospect of facing United for the first time as Liverpool manager.
Both teams have had a stuttering start to the season, with United’s dropped points leaving them four points behind leaders Chelsea, prompting Ferguson to demand more of a ruthless streak from his players.
“I think back to that great quartet of strikers – Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who all had a ruthlessness and concentration that saw them determined to finish off games,” the Old Trafford boss added.
“It’s a quality our present team must acquire and I want the players, both up front and at the back, to reflect on their powers of concentration – or lack of – and work on that aspect of their game.”
United may be third in the Premier League, 13 places above Sunday’s visitors Liverpool, but it has been a patchy start to the campaign for the 2009 league champions.
Ferguson’s side have already blown leads against Fulham and more spectacularly Everton. The latter match at Goodison Park saw the Toffees hit back to draw 3-3 with two goals in injury time.
The credentials of Ferguson’s team will be tested even further when they come up against Hodgson’s Liverpool who have also had an indifferent opening month in the Premier League with just one win in four.
While revealing he had spoken with Ferguson when appointed at Anfield, Hodgson said he hoped that after Sunday’s encounter it was his players being talked about, fresh from their 4-1 win against Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League.
“There is no room for sentiment and I’ll be hoping desperately things go our way and he’ll be hoping things go his way,” the former Fulham and Inter Milan boss said. “But the crowd turn up to watch the 22 actors on the field, not Alex or myself.
“I’ve been involved in some big derbies in my career and you know how much they mean to the fans. It compares with Inter v Juventus. The Milan derby was a big occasion but the derby d’Italia was the real killer one, as it were. I didn’t like losing in those games, which I did quite often.
“I did poorly so it would be nice to change that. This game certainly compares with that in terms of the interest it generates. It transcends the north-western rivalry and becomes even global because both clubs are so big outside of England.”
Despite the healthy result in Europe midweek, Hodgson has demanded an improvement in league form, particularly on the back of a disappointing goalless draw with Birmingham last week.
“It is important for us to give a good performance because our last one was below par,” the 62-year-old added.
“We weren’t as good as we can be and I hope we will at least be as good as we can be on Sunday – whether it is good enough to get a result against Manchester United, that is another matter.
“Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson, Christian Poulsen, Martin Skrtel – there were a lot of players who have been able to rest in the week and they will be raring to go.”
United look set to recall a number of rested players following a lacklustre 0-0 in their opening Champions League tie with Rangers on Tuesday.
Fit-again centre-half Rio Ferdinand may replace Jonny Evans to make his first Premier League start of the season, while keeper Edwin van der Sar and striker Dimitar Berbatov are almost certain starters.
Hodgson, meanwhile, is likely to beef up his side by recalling the likes of Torres and Gerrard, and could also select Joe Cole, available again after a three-month suspension.
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