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Rooney and Berbatov strike it rich
Published : 13 Aug 2009 09:19:36
SIR Alex Ferguson has ripped up his tactical blueprint for his attack from last season and a new look strike formula will spearhead the historic four-in-a-row title charge. The United boss has admitted that he played last August's £30.75m club record buy Dimitar Berbatov in the wrong position. "We were a bit unfair to him (Berbatov) last season because we asked him to play too deep. We thought that suited him because of how he played at Spurs, but we were wrong," said Fergie "We realise now he is at his best in the final third of the pitch, where he's a real threat. We know how to use him this season and he won't change from that." The result of the error over the Bulgarian's most productive position was a slump in his goal output from 23 and 24 goals in two seasons at Spurs to just 14 in his debut campaign at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney will also be relieved of the left sided shackles that restricted his danger for the Reds for some of last season. At the end of last season he scored twice for England in a 6-0 Wembley World Cup qualifier win against Andorra bringing his international season's tally to 10 goals. His contribution of eight competitive strikes equalled the record set by Busby Babe Tommy Taylor in the fifties. Paltry They were figures at the highest level as a centre forward that made his 17 for United garnered in far more matches look suspiciously paltry. It was no secret as to why the two stats differed and Rooney admitted back in June: "The position I play for England is the one I like playing most. Obviously, I haven't played that position for a while for United. "Of course it's the manager's choice, but I've always said my best position is playing up front. So I'm enjoying doing that with England." Now the 23-year-old has revealed that Sir Alex has told him he will play a more central role this term and has been issued with a 25-goal target for the season that would represent his best ever Old Trafford figures. Former United striker Frank Stapleton has applauded Ferguson's rethink on Berbatov and Rooney. "I think the indications are that it will be Berbatov and Rooney who will be the manager's first choice attacking partnership," Frank told M.E.N. Sport. "We also saw in the Community Shield against Chelsea those different looking roles both will be employing this season. "It was understandable playing Dimitar last season how he played for Tottenham. The evidence was there that he did well for them a bit deeper. It worked with Robbie Keane. "But there always has to be adjustments when you move to another team. What suited you at one side doesn't always fit so neatly at another club. "I think playing Berbatov more forward will get him involved more and I think we will see his goal output improve. Stronger "I think we have also already seen a fitter and stronger player. He didn't have a pre- season with United last year but now he has that behind him I think he's in better condition to put in better work rate. "Against Chelsea last Sunday Berbatov's demeanour and effort was noticeably much, much better. There has never been a question mark over his ability but there are very good signs that he will put in the hard work as well. "I thought he was United's best player at Wembley because of his work. He was doing that but still supplying those passes for his team mates. Rooney will also benefit from his change of role," added Stapleton. "Those England stats prove where he is most dangerous. You will never take his work rate away. If Wayne sees problems then he will still track back and help out. "But it is there for all to see that when he plays up front in the position he likes then his goal figures are better. The new roles will bring him and Berbatov closer together as a partnership. "It is the plus side of losing Cristiano Ronaldo. When you have an exceptional footballer like Ronaldo in your side there is the tendency to want to get the ball to that player as much as possible. "A player like Ronaldo causes problems and scores so many goals that it is natural you will always be looking for him. "But that can freeze other players out of the picture at times and maybe without that ball to Cristiano it will bring Rooney and Berbatov more into the picture. "He is not there anymore so you have to look for somebody else. I think Wayne and Dimitar will be the ones who'll profit from that. "But making up Ronaldo's goals isn't all down to those two. Michael Owen, Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda will all come into it and United need to see more from the midfield players. "But Berbatov and Rooney look set to be Fergie's spearhead and I think they will revel in it." What do you think? Have your say.