Ferguson backs Berbatov to shine

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Sir Alex Ferguson has predicted Manchester United are about to see the best of record signing Dimitar Berbatov.

With Wayne Rooney sidelined for three weeks with a hamstring injury picked up against Wigan on Wednesday night and Carlos Tevez doubtful for Saturday's trip to Bolton after limping through most of the game, there could be no better time for Berbatov to show his class.

"I have a feeling we are about to see the best of Berbatov," said the United chief.

There have been moments when Berbatov has proved why Ferguson shelled out £30.75million for him on the last transfer deadline-day, notably his brilliant pass to Cristiano Ronaldo in the build-up to Rooney's midweek match-winner.

But many United fans remain to be convinced about Berbatov's talents. Not so Ferguson, who feels the Bulgarian can bring an added dimension to his Champions League winners.

"When you pay a lot of money for a player he inevitably comes under close scrutiny. It happened to Juan Sebastian Veron and Rio Ferdinand and Dimitar has also suffered from the impatience of people when a guy makes a big move," he said.

"At Tottenham, he orchestrated most of their play and if, at times, he has looked a bit isolated, it was because our players needed to adjust to him just as much as he has needed to learn our ways."

Aside from his striking problems, Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Wes Brown are definitely missing from a defence that has now kept a club record nine successive clean sheets in top-flight combat, with Jonny Evans possibly joining the casualty list after limping through virtually the full 90 minutes against Wigan.

If the Northern Ireland star does not make it, Ferguson would be forced to push either Gary Neville or John O'Shea alongside Nemanja Vidic. And O'Shea thinks the possible carrot of going top of the league for a couple of days - before Monday's Merseyside derby - should focus a few United minds.

"It is a fantastic incentive," said the Republic of Ireland star. "That was what we were talking about a few months ago when we had these games in hand. We felt if we could get to a stage where we could be top having played the same number of games as everyone else it is a definite advantage."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Dimitar Berbatov
John O'Shea
Carlos Tevez
Bolton Wanderers
Wes Brown
Premier League
Manchester United
Patrice Evra
Cristiano Ronaldo
Nemanja Vidic
Wayne Rooney
Wigan Athletic
Gary Neville
Jonny Evans
Rio Ferdinand

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