'Marvellous' Berbatov is not joining United, says Ferguson

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of his admiration for Dimitar Berbatov, describing the Spurs striker as a "marvellous player", but admitting that it was highly unlikely he would sign for Manchester United before the transfer window closes tonight.

The United manager revealed that he had "looked on the market" following the injuries his squad have suffered at the start of the season but said he did not want to "dive in" and make a mistake at this late stage.

However the interest in Berbatov is clear with Ferguson impressed by the Bulgarian's performance at Old Trafford last Sunday. "When Tottenham were in gear it was through Berbatov really," he said. Ferguson refused to confirm that he had made a bid. "I won't go into that," he said. He maintained that the United squad has "enough quality" for the campaign.

Ferguson was bullish about United's prospects of retaining the title. "The first three games were absolutely magnificent performances," he said of the two draws and a defeat that kicked off the season. "If I speak to a couple of managers who were watching the games they say 'Christ they're better than last year and they haven't scored!' The ingredient that is missing? Sticking the ball in the net."

In a wide-ranging interview Ferguson also reflected on his time at United and the players he has managed – starting with Roy Keane, who he will face in tomorrow's league encounter against Sunderland. Keane, who Ferguson tried to buy the day after the midfielder made his debut for Nottingham Forest, was hailed as the "biggest influence" he has had in the dressing room and the "nub of the team".

When it comes to talent, however, the United manager chooses Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes plus Eric Cantona "without question" as the best he has worked with.

* To see the Des Lynam interview with Sir Alex Ferguson, tune in to The Friday Football Show, at 6.30pm tonight, exclusively on Setanta Sports 1. Manchester United v Sunderland is exclusively live on Setanta Sports 1 tomorrow (5.15pm). To subscribe, visit www.setanta.com or call 08712 00 33 22