Sir Alex Ferguson insists he still trusts Dimitar Berbatov.
The £30.75million Bulgarian was left on the bench for Manchester United's crunch Champions League clash with Bayern Munich and remained there until 10 minutes from time, even after Wayne Rooney had gone off and his side were slipping to a narrow quarter-final exit.
It has raised inevitable questions over Berbatov's Old Trafford future, even if United would have to take a massive loss on the club record fee it cost to sign the 29-year-old from Tottenham in 2008.
Yet Ferguson apparently has no concerns about Berbatov's overall contribution.
The striker is set to be included for Sunday's trip to Blackburn as Wayne Rooney misses out with an ankle injury, and the United manager is confident Berbatov will play a major role for the Red Devils, both this season and beyond.
"Yes, I still trust him," said Ferguson.
"He is a good player and there is absolutely no reason why we should doubt that.
"Dimitar he has done well in a lot of games recently but we prefer to play with one striker.
"When we got the man sent off on Wednesday there was no need to bring a striker on because all we were trying to do was go over the line in terms of defending."
The spotlight has tended to shine on Berbatov even more because Ferguson fought so hard to get him, and bucked the general trend of buying younger players.
That policy continued yesterday, when United confirmed the capture of 21-year-old Mexico striker Javier Hernandez from Chivas.
Doubts over the finance available to Ferguson continue, with latest reports suggesting United are baulking on a bid for highly-rated Valencia forward David Villa, who has declared an interest in moving to England, because the fee is too high.
Without rejecting the claim outright, the United boss did try to clarify his overall transfer policy, and insisted, at a time when Real Madrid and Manchester City in particular are spending huge sums on players, it was the best way forward for the Old Trafford outfit.
"We like doing these kind of deals where we can identify young talent. We have been good at that over the years," he said of the Hernandez deal.
"There is the odd exception when we get a mature player, like Berbatov. When you sign a player for that kind of money you know there is not going to be a resale value if he stays with you for six years.
"It is about getting the player we need who is going to improve us or maintain the level we are at. That is the way we have operated in the past and there is a lot wrong with that policy.
"There is conjecture about every good player.
"Last summer it was Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, although he was a young player and one of the targets we set out to get. Now it is David Villa.
"I am sure by the end of the season there will be half a dozen more. I can't confirm that speculation but most of it is not right."
Ferguson admitted he was not intending to sign Hernandez quite so quickly.
However, he had been forced into action by the 21-year-old muscling his way into the Mexican national squad, where he has scored four times already, and put himself in line for a place at the World Cup.
"We got some background knowledge about the boy last October and we had more good reports in December," he revealed.
"The feeling was to wait because he was young. But then he got into the national team, which created a problem for us because if he went to the World Cup and did well, there would be a danger of losing him."Reuse content