Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed any prospect of Dimitar Berbatov leaving Manchester United this summer and hinted that he will be leading their attack at the start of next season because Wayne Rooney will not be back in training early enough to play an immediate part.
Ferguson's response when asked in a Canadian radio interview yesterday whether the Bulgarian would be leaving in the close season was unequivocal. "No, no, no, definitely not," he said, before declaring that the eight members of his squad who are on World Cup duty will get 28 days' rest at the end of their work in South Africa. "The World Cup is a draining experience. We give all the players a 28-day rest after the last game [of the tournament]," Ferguson said. "We intend to start the season without them." If England make the World Cup semi-finals, Rooney may therefore not begin pre-season training until 4 August, 10 days before the Premier League campaign kicks off, so he could miss the first two fixtures at least.
Alluding to the speculation linking Berbatov to Milan and Bayern Munich, Ferguson said: "The problem with a club like Manchester United is the expectation and attention is always there. There's speculation every season and some of them have you signing 100 players. You have to deal with that. There's been a lot [written] on Berbatov in terms of his future but we know he is a good player. He is a fantastic footballer and he will be with us next year."
Ferguson's willingness to let any player leave for Bayern may be questionable, given that he is still bristling about United's Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Louis van Gaal's team and believes Jose Mourinho's Internazionale are the better of the sides contesting tomorrow's Champions League final in Madrid. "We should be in that," he said. " We murdered Bayern Munich but they just had the luck on the night. We had a terrible refereeing decision in the game [Rafael da Silva's dismissal] and it changed the whole course of it.
"If you look at Bayern in all their games this season they have carried a bit of luck. It may be their name on the cup but, make no mistake, Inter are the better team. Mourinho has changed that club around. Bayern are carrying the luck and I worry about that."
The United manager again suggested there would not be any substantial outlay this summer on "signature players." Asked how he could make good the gap on Chelsea, he said: "We don't have a lot to improve on. The area which concerned us last season was that we had 16 players who missed more than six weeks of the season through injury." He also reiterated his faith in the Glazers as owners of the club. "Every time I ask for a player they give me the money," he said. "We've spent over £20m on young players this season. Because we sign a young player and not a signature player, people don't think we are moving but we are moving."