Manchester United delay Berbatov surgery

Sir Alex Ferguson is crossing his fingers record signing Dimitar Berbatov can make it to the end of the season without needing knee surgery.

Berbatov has been struggling with the injury since November and Ferguson revealed last week the advice has been for the £30.75million forward to have an exploratory operation so medical staff can work out the extent of the problem.

That is not a route the 28-year-old is keen to go down, especially as he did not feel any reaction this week during United's warm weather training camp in Qatar.

Ferguson admitted there may come a point when United have to "make a decision" about whether to put Berbatov under the knife should symptoms persist.

However, as it has previously been suggested that could rule him out for three months during a period when United are hardly over-burdened with in-form forwards, Ferguson is desperately hoping to avoid that scenario.

"If we could see it through until the end of the season it would be better," said the Red Devils chief.

"The advice was to have an exploratory operation but Dimitar wants to play through it.

"Sometimes he feels it and sometimes he doesn't. Maybe the climate helped but he didn't feel it when we went away, so he trained every day.

"It is a difficult one and if he is feeling OK it is not a problem.

"But if he is keeps continually coming up against a problem we would have to make a decision on it."

United could certainly do with Berbatov performing consistently at the level Ferguson felt he was capable of when he lured him north from Tottenham 18 months ago.

Although the Scot was prevented from entering into any discussion about the Old Trafford outfit's debt mountain - and their plans to tackle it, which he backed seven days ago - due to "regulatory compliance" - United could certainly do with some of the heat being taken off the club by the team putting a consistent run of results together.

On the face of it, an FA Cup home defeat by League One Leeds, followed by a draw at Birmingham does not achieve that objective.

Yet Ferguson was actually quite pleased with the manner of his side's performance at St Andrew's, and their tenacity at fighting back once Cameron Jerome had put the hosts in front.

"It was not an easy game and I wasn't upset about the performance in any way," he said.

"You are looking for consistency but you can't think you are going to steamroller a team like Birmingham, who have got themselves to eighth in the league, when you are 1-0 down at half-time."

Nevertheless, this was supposed to be a spell in which United exerted themselves in their usual manner prior to the encounter with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on January 31.

The likely return of Edwin van der Sar, who has missed 12 successive matches, initially due to a knee injury suffered against Everton on November 21, then because his wife Annemarie suffered a stroke back home in Holland, should help bring some stability to United's defence, which Ferguson believes is crucial to any change in fortune.

Yet United must also take a far greater percentage of their chances, starting tomorrow against a Burnley side whose depressing run of away results - just one point so far this season - is being balanced out by impressive home form that began with that shock defeat of tomorrow's opponents at Turf Moor in August.

"It was a great emotional night for them and everyone was caught up in it," said Ferguson.

"We created a lot of chances but when you miss as many as that you can't say you deserve to win."

The added dimension this time around is Owen Coyle's exit for Bolton and the installation of Brian Laws as his replacement.

Managing in the top flight is new territory for Laws, whose CV includes spells at Scunthorpe and Grimsby before he moved on to Sheffield Wednesday.

Yet Ferguson is not surprised at the appointment.

"They had to make a quick decision because of the position they are in," reflected Ferguson.

"When you are in that bottom half of the league it is never easy. All the teams down there will be battling to avoid relegation.

"Brian Laws has got experience and that is probably what they need at the moment."

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Boxer Amir Khan will travel to Pakistan in bid to 'make a difference' in the wake of army school massacre
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture