ALEX FERGUSON yesterday lashed out at the media reaction to comments he made about Fernando Torres after Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Liverpool last Sunday.
In a post-match interview, Ferguson reflected on the thrilling victory and a stunning Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick, and also referred to Fernando Torres’ reaction to a foul by John O’Shea, saying: “Torres made a meal of it, an absolute meal of it. There is no doubt he tried to get the player sent off.’’
After finding subsequent reports emblazoned with suggestions that he had labelled the Liverpool striker ‘a cheat’, Ferguson has questioned the media’s focus in reporting the events.
“If you think about Berbatov scoring a hat-trick – the first to score a hat-trick in 64 years in that game – you’d have thought that would get the back-page headlines, but that was stuck on the inside,’’ Ferguson fumed.
“It was all me saying Torres was a cheat, which was absolutely ridiculous press. I said, quite rightly, that I thought he had made the most of it. That’s not to say the guy’s a cheat. It could apply to any player in a given moment, taking advantage of a situation.
“But that was disappointing (from) a lot of the press. I thought Berbatov would have grabbed all the headlines, which he really did deserve.’’
Berbatov, meanwhile, has admitted there have been times when the club record £30.75 million (€36.1m) price tag has weighed him down at United.
After two mixed seasons at Old Trafford, which saw Berbatov show glimpses of the genius Ferguson referred to in his programme notes ahead of last weekend’s encounter with Liverpool, too often the major assessment of the 29-year-old has been one of unfulfilled talent. Fans accused Berbatov, who will look to continue his rich vein of form against Bolton tomorrow, of being too lazy and not contributing to the dynamism of a team that has been built around pace and energy.
It certainly would not have come as any real surprise had Berbatov been unloaded in the summer.
However, after a long wait, Berbatov is finally showing why Ferguson wanted him so badly.
Seven goals already this season have sent him soaring to the top of the Premier League scoring charts, while his hat-trick against Liverpool earned him a special place in Red Devils folklore.
For Berbatov, it could go down as the day he was finally freed from his shackles. Yesterday the former Tottenham man went some way to lifting the veil of secrecy that surrounds him.
“I suppose I am a strange guy but I am shy and maybe some people don’t realise that,” he said.
“I have a difficulty letting someone else into my inner circle.
“I tried not to think about it (the fee) but sometimes you just can’t help it. You start thinking, ‘That’s a lot of money, what is going to happen if I don’t prove good enough or I don’t score enough goals?’
“It was always going through my mind and sometimes it can be bad for your concentration and your skills because it distracts you.
“In the end I just have to relax and play. I am playing for the biggest club in the world and that’s it – nobody can say anything else.”
Meanwhile, Owen Hargreaves is inching his way towards a surprise Manchester United comeback.
Hargreaves has managed just one minute of senior action in the past two years since undergoing surgery on both knees to try to cure a tendinitis problem.
However, after seeing the midfielder in action on the training ground at Carrington this week, Ferguson is feeling quite bullish about a successful comeback.
“Owen has looked very good,” he said.
“After being out for so long, we’ll obviously have to monitor him and see how he’s going to progress in the next few weeks. But it’s good to see him back.’’
For his part, Owen Coyle intends to use the clash with United to work out how far Bolton have progressed during his time in charge.
“This is a gauge to see if we have improved,” he said.
“We are in for a tough afternoon because I believe Manchester United will go close to winning the Premier League again.
“But I want to make sure we perform in a way where we have no regrets.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved