Liverpool legend Alan Hansen has told the Daily Telegraph that he believes Dimitar Berbatov will often play second fiddle to the younger Javier Hernandez, despite Berbatov currently being the top scorer for both United and the Barclays Premier League.
“When it comes to the big games, Berbatov usually finds himself on the bench,” Hansen said.
“He hasn’t started any of Manchester United’s games against Arsenal or Chelsea this season and, for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final, I just can’t see Ferguson accommodating him in the starting XI.
“Some might think that Berbatov deserves some compassion considering that he is the league’s leading scorer, but this is big-time football, trophies are at stake and, in this situation, Ferguson will always go with his best team.
“A manager has to have total trust in a player in order to start him in the biggest games and Sir Alex clearly believes that Berbatov, when games are tight and there is a need for something extra, falls short.
“He is a phenomenal talent and should be one of the first names on the team-sheet, but if Berbatov wants to be starting every game, he has to say so with his actions.”
While Berbatov has started just three of his last 10 games for Manchester United, Hansen believes Hernandez is a far superior striker, based on the Mexican international's effort and reliability.
“When [Hernandez] is on the pitch, he will always give 100 per cent and try to find space to make something happen.
“Berbatov is much more laconic and, if you had never seen him play before, it would be impossible to watch him and say whether he was struggling or having a great game simply because of the way he plays.”
Hansen points to the pairing with Rooney as integral to Manchester United’s game plan, and argues that Hernandez is a far better fit for the United star than Berbatov will ever be.
“As a defender, facing Rooney and Berbatov is relatively easy because Rooney will always take a position just off the front man and look to play balls around the corner for his partner to latch onto," Hansen said.
“But Berbatov’s natural instinct is to come to the ball and hold it, so it can slow United down and make life easier for defenders, who don’t have to worry about being turned for pace.”