Berbatov's DIY job
Sir Alex Ferguson has explained how he cajoled Dimitar Berbtaov into his finest spell of Manchester United form. The Bulgarian ace has been an enigma since signing for the Reds from Tottenham for a record £31.5m two years ago, dividing fans' opinion with moments of divine flair and frustrating failure. But he has been United's star performer and top-scorer so far this term, after Fergie told him to sort out his problems himself. And the Reds striker has responded by firing in the goals though he is keen to be known as an all-round footballer, rather than simply a hitman. Said Ferguson: I just had a word with him at the start of the campaign. I told him: Look, only you can solve this conundrum. You're the one in control here. You've got fantastic ability and you need to realise that ability and make the most of it. We'll be here to support you'. And he's started the season in terrific form for us. Dimitar has been, without doubt, our star forward. When you bring a player to Manchester United, not everybody takes to the situation straight away. Not all signings become hits overnight. Dimitar was a bit like that. It's just a fact. Nobody's ever doubted the ability of the lad, but what we're seeing now is a striker who's playing with belief and confidence. All strikers are massively reliant on those two factors - belief and confidence. And at the moment Berbatov has both. Berbatov is adamant he doesn't just want to be judged on the number of goals he scores. Experts Despite the fact he tops the Reds' scoring list with six Premier League goals, the Bulgarian believes there is a lot more to his game. Everybody thinks they understand football, said Berbatov. People all around the world think they are experts. But for me a good player, a complete player, is not just about scoring goals. It's about vision, about touch, about decision-making. I know lots of strikers who score many goals, but they don't have the technical ability I like to see in players. I always like a player who can control the ball, who thinks two steps ahead players like Zidane or Xavi. Or like Leo Messi, who is not a typical centre-forward. He is more of a midfield player who scores a lot of goals. People judge strikers on the number of goals, but for me there is more to it than that. The 30-year-old has delighted the Old Trafford faithful with his skills but has frustrated some who would like to see him work harder. But Berbatov, who quit international football to concentrate on his United career, believes it's his duty to entertain. He said: You need to know when to slow it down and when to increase the tempo. Zidane was great at doing that. He knew what he could do with his touch and when a player is really sure in himself he can do great things. I know what I can do and I try to do it. Confidence Berbatov has always had supreme confidence in his own skills but it's something he works on every day in training. It starts when you are just a boy, he said. I remember when I was small I would kick the ball up high, maybe a thousand times a day just to try to stop it with my feet. Because I did that, now I have good technique. So I knew how to control the ball and where to look, but when you become a professional player you continue to develop your skills. You need to practise and the only place to do it is the training ground. Berbatov's hat-trick against Liverpool showed the wide range of his skills as he scored an exquisitely taken overhead kick after controlling the ball with his knee before outjumping Jamie Carragher to head the winner. I don't consider myself a classical centre-forward, he said. I try to bring something different to the game. I depend more on my touch and my technical ability than to jump and play with my elbows. But the third goal against Liverpool was also beautiful for me it was a cross and you have just a second to think about what the defender is going to do and how you are going to outsmart him. I jumped just a second before him to get ahead of him and that was it. You just need to be quick. It's a simple thing. How can Berbatov get the most out of his ability? Have your say.
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