ALEX FERGUSON has revealed he had to step in and stop Dimitar Berbatov beating himself up about his Manchester United performances.
Berbatov has been forced to endure as many brickbats as plaudits during his two seasons at Old Trafford.
Although the Bulgarian is undoubtedly a player of immense talent, there are many who do not appreciate his languid style and feel he does not put enough heart into his performances.
Comparisons with the obvious industry of Carlos Tevez, who was squeezed out by Berbatov’s arrival and eventually opted to leave for Manchester City in a highly controversial move, have often not been favourable.
And it seems Berbatov has taken too much notice of the bad publicity as, ahead of Sunday’s encounter with Liverpool, Ferguson has revealed he had to tell his club record £30.75million record signing to stop taking so much notice of the critics.
“Not everyone has questioned Dimitar,” said Ferguson. “He has a lot of admirers, particularly at this club.
“But when we buy a player for a lot of money, there is more focus on him. If they have an odd bad game there is a criticism other players may not get.
“He worried about it himself, however, as I told him, he has to dismiss the press.
“Dimitar has had some terrific games for us. He is enjoying his football and he will play on Sunday.”
Arguably, Berbatov has started the season in the most consistent vein of form of his Old Trafford career.
He currently tops the United scoring charts with four and Ferguson admitted he may have made an error leaving the 29-year-old out of his squad for Tuesday’s Champions League stalemate with Rangers, when his invention could have been very useful. As it turned out, aside from United’s failure to overcome Rangers’ smothering tactics, the game was most notable for Antonio Valencia’s horrific ankle injury.
Meanwhile Ferguson still does not believe there is any fixture in the Premier League calendar like United against Liverpool.
It is bound to be a keenly contested affair, despite the fact Liverpool’s wait for a 19th league title has now been extended to an incredible 20 years.
During that time, United have won 11, joining their old rivals on 18 championships and coming within a victory of snatching their coveted domestic record last term.
When he first came south from Aberdeen in 1986, Ferguson famously declared it was his intention to knock Liverpool off their perch.
Now, as he prepares to face a seventh Reds boss in old friend Roy Hodgson, Ferguson describes what the meetings mean to him.
“This is the fixture. There is no question about that,” he said.
Ferguson confirmed last night that Nemanja Vidic will skipper United tomorrow. There has been huge debate over who would wear the captain’s armband since Ferguson revealed earlier in the week that Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs can no longer expect to do the job because they do not play every week. “What we wanted was someone who was consistently available for us,” Ferguson said. “Everyone recognises Nemanja Vidic would always be there. He has been fit all season and you don’t leave him out of the team unless you are going to rest him. He started the campaign as captain and it will stay that way.”
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