Ferguson feels for beleaguered bosses

MANCHESTER - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson expressed sympathy for under-fire club bosses on Friday ahead of an FA Cup match with Liverpool that could seal Roy Hodgson's fate.

The Liverpool manager's job is hanging by a thread after a series of poor results left the team just four points above the relegation zone. Defeat at Old Trafford in Sunday's third round match could have the club's owners wielding the knife.

"It's a very difficult industry nowadays and I feel for all the managers who are under pressure and the ones who have lost their jobs," said Ferguson, who was keen to keep his distance from an issue which has been a hot topic in the media.

His own son Darren Ferguson was sacked last week as manager at Championship Preston North End, while speculation has been growing over the futures of several Premier League managers.

The spotlight has been on Aston Villa's Gerard Houllier, West Ham United's Avram Grant, Chelsea's Carlo Ancelotti and Hodgson, whose planned news conference on Friday was cancelled with the club citing the intense media speculation.

Having become United's longest serving manager last month and sitting top of the league table, Ferguson has no cause for concern over his own job but was nevertheless wary of repeating an error that cost him dearly in the FA Cup last season.

"We made a mistake last year picking a team which we thought would be good enough to beat Leeds and got a reminder that the FA Cup is a cup which has shocks," he told a news conference referring to the 1-0 third round defeat by Leeds United, who at the time were in the third tier of English football.

"We got a shock last year and hopefully we don't get one this year. I think I picked the wrong team last year and hopefully I don't pick the wrong team this time."

He said he hoped to have goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and striker Wayne Rooney back from illness and injury respectively, while defender Rio Ferdinand was definitely available having been rested for Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Stoke City.