No room for sentiment - Hodgson

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Roy Hodgson hopes his long friendship with Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson will be tested now he is manager of Liverpool.

Predecessor Rafael Benitez's relationship with Ferguson was far from cordial but, prior to that, Gerard Houllier was well respected by the United boss and it is the same with Hodgson. Hodgson and Ferguson face each other for the first time as managers of arch rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday

"I certainly regard him as a friend. Whether he regards me as a friend you'd have to ask him," said the 62-year-old. "But during the match 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."

Hodgson, who revealed he telephoned Ferguson when he took over at Liverpool, added: "I spoke to him in a jocular way, I asked him the question 'Does it mean now I've taken the Liverpool job that we don't speak to each other?' - he didn't put the phone down but he made some cutting remark.

"The friendship hasn't been affected by me becoming Liverpool manager.

"I'm sure he will offer me a glass of wine when I go to the game on Sunday and I'll offer him one when he comes here."

After the phoney war of words between Benitez and Ferguson in recent years, Hodgson believes attention can now be focused solely on what happens on the pitch.

"The crowd turn up to watch the 22 actors on the field, not Alex or myself," he added.

"But I think Sir Alex is the greatest of my generation, certainly within English football.

"It is always difficult to compare with foreign managers and what they have done in other countries but for me, in my working lifetime as a coach, I regard him as the greatest British manager."

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