Berbatov feud revived by United

Ferguson launches fresh attack on Spurs ahead of trip to White Hart Lane

Battle will be rejoined for Sir Alex Ferguson with one of his most favoured old adversaries today but the cordiality does not extend to the club Harry Redknapp currently manages, whom the Manchester United manager accused yesterday of stalling over Dimitar Berbatov's transfer out of a two-year bitterness concerning Michael Carrick's departure to Old Trafford.

Berbatov can expect a hostile welcome, Ferguson predicted, if he shakes off an Achilles problem to start the weekend's most appetising fixture at White Hart Lane and the United manager can expect something similar from a club he claimed had "milked" the Berbatov transfer this summer before receiving £31million, £11m more than United's initial offer.

"For some reason they still regret selling Michael Carrick to us – that's their biggest problem," Ferguson said. "But they wanted to sell him to us [at the time.] They can't blame us for that." Where the regret is concerned, Ferguson has a point. The 27-year-old, who had two years left on his deal at Spurs when he rejected a new contract offer amid persistent United interest, was a more important player when he left White Hart Lane than the disaffected Berbatov and the club have not found his like again for the spine of their midfield.

When United pursued Berbatov equally assiduously over two summers until the last transfer window deadline day, relations grew poisonous. "They milked it well that last day – they milked it very well and they got Fraizer Campbell into the bargain," Ferguson said, Campbell's one-year loan proving the clinching factor in Berbatov's move. "They got a good deal. They can't complain about that."

Campbell has flourished under Redknapp but Ferguson turned the knife by insisting that the striker will be back at Old Trafford when his one-year loan expires, despite Spurs' aspirations for a permanent sale. "There is no question about that. He's is coming back. He's going to be a good player," Ferguson said.

Ferguson expects a caustic reception to say the least, for Berbatov, following the open desire he expressed for a move north. "Harry has said he doesn't blame him for leaving but then he wasn't the manager at the time and he can take a separate view," Ferguson said. "I think it was because Berbatov was coming to Manchester United. If he had been going anywhere else there wouldn't have been so much of a furore."

If the last utterance sounded defensive then it contributed to the day's prevailing tone, in which Ferguson also claimed that the press were deliberately attempting to get Wayne Rooney banned from United's next venture into Europe, through coverage of his alleged stamp on Aalborg's Kasper Risgard on Wednesday night. "You're never off that phone, you're never off that phone to Uefa," he said, though his willingness to move on having being challenged on that assertion suggested that he knows Rooney has a case to answer. Ferguson's pronouncements on Rooney are unfathomable at times. It is little more than a month since he inferred the striker was getting too much adulation from the press and so refused to discuss him. The striker is suspended today along with Patrice Evra, and though Berbatov is understood to have been training since Thursday and is likely to start, a back spasm Rio Ferdinand suffered on Wednesday may keep him out of a game which United badly need to win to maintain pressure before leaving tonight for the World Club Championships in Japan.

Redknapp's tone on the Berbatov sale was immeasurably more emollient than his chairman Daniel Levy's has been. "If a player makes his mind up that he wants to leave then it's for the best. If that's the case then the best thing was to sell him," he said. "If we keep a player against their will they will get the hump – what can you do? The club got the right money for him." Redknapp saw enough of Berbatov at Fratton Park last December, when he scored the only goal in a Spurs win, to know he was in a "different class." Redknapp observed that Berbatov is "very much a big fish in a big pond" and that with Rooney and Ronaldo "he is just another of the top players" at Old Trafford.

Ledley King won't know until 2pm today whether he is fit to play – his knee was swollen again last night – and Redknapp admitted he could be damaging his health in the long term by playing once a week with his injury. "It can't be doing him any good in the long term," he said. "I have been there with my son [Jamie]. After nine operations there is nothing there to operate on, it's just bone on bone." But Redknapp said King would remain his captain "for as long as he plays."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'