Man Utd V Liverpool at Old Trafford - Match Preview

Sturridge signing "a gamble" - Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has taken a punt on signing Daniel Sturridge.

Having been left with only Luis Suarez as a regular striker when the last transfer window closed, Rodgers moved quickly in this one to supplement his forward options.

Sturridge is an England international. But his four caps equal the number of clubs he has played for, with a period on loan at Bolton in addition to spells with Manchester City and Chelsea prior to his big #12million Anfield move.

He could start alongside Suarez in Sunday's eagerly-anticipated Old Trafford showdown, but Ferguson feels his ability cannot be taken for granted.

"The big issue for Liverpool is whether they include new signing Daniel Sturridge," Ferguson told United Review.

"Certainly the arrival of Sturridge gives Brendan Rodgers more strength and options up front.

"Sturridge has had a few clubs but I don't blame him for jumping at the chance of joining Liverpool because he just wasn't playing regularly with Chelsea and I always rate a player whose priority is wanting to play.

"Even so, his track record moving between a number of clubs suggests Brendan Rodgers is taking a bit of a gamble, but he clearly knows what he is doing."

Ferguson has selection issues of his own to deal with, not least whether to draft Nani and Anderson straight back into his starting line-up after recovering from their respective hamstring strains.

The likelihood is that both men will be on the bench at best, although Rio Ferdinand is glad to have them back.

"They are both naturally talented footballers," said Ferdinand.

"You don't really get players who can beat opponents in the middle of the park these days.

"That is a good asset to have and is something Anderson has above anyone else. He can go past players and commit people.

"Nani is the same. He is one of the most talented players I have played with.

"He is always a threat. He is quick, sharp and shoots off both feet.

"He can cross the ball too so overall, he has everything."

Rodgers admits his side are still some way off matching United's consistent dominance, but he remains confident it can be achieved.

It is almost 23 years since the Reds won their last league title and in the intervening period they have had to watch their arch-rivals accumulate championships with alarming regularity.

Two seasons ago United moved themselves clear of Liverpool's tally with a record 19th title, and it may be a while before the Merseysiders are in a position to genuinely think they can begin levelling things up again.

"Of course Manchester United have been very dominant over a number of years but this is a football club that also had dominance for many years," said the Liverpool manager.

"What you are always fighting for, every day, is to get back to that level.

"It's a long, hard journey but it has to start somewhere, and what I've seen in this first period that I've been here is that going forward, we can achieve great things.

"The root of it is having a competitive squad and that is what we are trying to build, create consistency and an environment which allows you to learn and develop.

"There is no doubt on the day, as we have shown this season, we will be a match for anyone but we are now starting to see that consistency and that is important if you are going to succeed.

"That will be the benchmark for us going forward and hopefully we can keep progressing up the table."

Liverpool head to Old Trafford 21 points behind leaders United.

Only once since Sir Alex Ferguson joined United in 1987 have Liverpool been so far behind them at this stage - in 1994 under Graeme Souness.

This week Sturridge insisted there was no club in England bigger than Liverpool.

It was a statement viewed with scorn and disdain but Rodgers was mindful to agree.

"It's two of the biggest clubs in the world, not just in Britain. Two clubs who are renowned worldwide," he said.

"It's history that makes a club. Of course we are fighting in the present moment to be better and to improve but the history of this club is incredible.

"People will knock it at the moment because of the standards that were achieved here in the 1970s and 1980s, but that doesn't stop it being one of the biggest clubs in the world, and a club many players want to play for.

"Both clubs are institutions in their own right."

Source: PA

Source: PA