Belfast Telegraph

Criticism can’t kill class of Dimitar Berbatov

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has given his full backing to Dimitar Berbatov, saying the striker is a class act.

Berbatov was named man of the match in the 3-1 victory against Celtic at Toronto's Rogers Centre.

The Bulgarian opened the scoring and then set up goals for substitutes Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley as United got their five-match tour off to a winning start.

It was an impressive display by Berbatov, who has only 26 goals from 86 appearances to his credit since arriving from Tottenham in summer 2008.

Ferguson said: “Berbatov got man of the match and I think he deserved that, no question. His performance was excellent.

“In the second-half he produced some fantastic moments. It underlines the one great factor — the class he has. You cannot take that away from him, no matter the criticism. It doesn't come from our camp. When we see a performance like that we know we have the right player.”

Berbatov was partnered at the start by Mame Biram Diouf while, as well as Welbeck, Federico Macheda was given a run-out up front.

Ferguson knows he is spoiled for choice in that area especially with Javier Hernandez also on board, Michael Owen on course to return from injury at the start of the season and Wayne Rooney on a post-World Cup holiday.

“We are happy with the strikers we have got,” said the United boss. “You have to decide what is the best combination.

“Berbatov and Diouf in the first-half did very well.

“Diouf has got different talents to Macheda and Welbeck. He penetrates, he is quick and aggressive. He is an interesting player and it suited Berbatov.”

Ferguson called up a number of players, who are either in or around the first team like the Da Silva twins, Rafael and Fabio, Darron Gibson, Gabriel Obertan and Ritchie De Laet.

The veteran boss said: “We have strong belief in their abilities. We are good at bringing young players through, some we sign, some come through the academy.

“I think we have really good talent in the striking department with Macheda, Welbeck and Diouf. Hernandez is also joining us so that is a good area and a good future for us.”

Ferguson also expressed his satisfaction with Chris Smalling following the England Under-21 defender's first game for United.

Smalling partnered Jonny Evans in a new-look partnership at the back with Rio Ferdinand absent through injury and Nemanja Vidic on a break after the World Cup. The 20-year-old had some difficult moments, not least of all when he conceded a penalty after a challenge on Joe Ledley and Georgios Samaras equalised.

However, Ferguson said: “I was pleased with Chris. We know he is good footballer, we know he is quick and is a good passer of the ball.

“There was a period after half-time when he had two fantastic headers with great purpose and showed his aerial ability.

“He got caught a little bit with the penalty kick. The player ran from his blind side in behind him, but he is only young, he is only 20.”

Meanwhile, United defender Wes Brown would welcome the introduction of goal-line technology. He said: “I think it has to be brought in for the goal line. I was as disappointed as everyone else when I saw Frank Lampard’s effort disallowed against Germany. The ball was so far over it was incredible.

“It would only take a few seconds to check whether the ball had gone over.

“It works well in tennis and I think it would be a great addition to our game.”

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