Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Jol lauds match-winner Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov told his manager he would score on Sunday

Martin Jol hailed Dimitar Berbatov as the Fulham striker lived up to his promise to shoot down his former club Tottenham.

Tottenham's hopes of Champions League qualification took a big blow as they lost 1-0 to the Cottagers thanks to Berbatov's second-half poke past Hugo Lloris. The 52nd-minute strike was not one of the finest of his career, but it did not matter for Berbatov or Jol, who tasted victory over the club he used to manage for the first time since leaving White Hart Lane six years ago.

Jol said: "Before the game you hope for a point... but Berbatov came to me and promised me... He said: 'you have to trust me'. I thought he was joking. But he said it before the match against Stoke (where he scored the winner) and he is a wonderful player. It was one of the best wins ever."

In truth Berbatov's performance was hardly in keeping with the high standards he has set himself throughout his career. The Bulgarian's passing was woeful at times and he spent much of the match with his hands on his hips or throwing them in the air in frustration at his team-mates.

Jol admits Berbatov is a unique character who needs to be carefully managed, but the Dutchman maintains that the 32-year-old is still one of the best hitmen in the league.

"He's a remarkable boy," the 57-year-old said. "He's a different personality, but he's said it twice now. Against Stoke before the match and he said it again today. The only thing he wants is a day off if he scores. I promised him a day off and he scores!"

Spurs were poor throughout Sunday's encounter. Even the simplest of passes went astray while Emmanuel Adebayor, Jermain Defoe, and even the returning Gareth Bale were unable to test Mark Schwarzer until the dying stages.

Manager Andre Villas-Boas has now lost three games on the bounce for the first time since he took over and he accepted responsibility for the defeat, stating that the 120-minute drain of Thursday's defeat at Inter Milan had nothing do to with the loss.

"It was nothing to do with the players today," he said.

"The effort and commitment were there. Probably the organisation wasn't, and it is down to us to get to business and correct that."

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