Manchester United have spent most of the summer trying to avert the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo but the club's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is also hoping to strengthen his squad. United have been strongly linked with a move for Tottenham's Dimitar Berbatov.
United were believed to have considered a move for the Bulgarian striker in the January transfer window and reports at the weekend suggested they have now made a £20m bid. Berbatov's agent, Emil Danchev, said: "I can tell with certainty that Manchester United have expressed an interest in Berbatov. I cannot comment on the issue further."
Preparations for the new season were disrupted last week when the European champions' assistant manager, Carlos Queiroz, left to become Portugal's coach. Speculation has grown over who Ferguson will bring in as his No 2 – inside the club, the coaches Mike Phelan, Brian McClair and Rene Meulensteen are in the frame. However, speaking on Saturday, after United had beaten Aberdeen 2-0 at Pittodrie in their first pre-season friendly, Ferguson said he would not rush to name a replacement.
"You take your time with these things, there is no hurry," he said. "We have got good staff and we will carry on, we've always done that. We've never made a quick appointment. It's always disappointing to lose good men and [Carlos] was a good man. He was honest and very loyal to me and a good coach. He brought a lot of initiatives that we now carry on.
"He has taken a challenge on that people do, if they have that patriotic passion and the nationalist fervour to go and manage their country. He's got that. I knew when Portugal came for him that it would be very difficult for us."
A near sell-out crowd was at Pittodrie for United's friendly, a testimonial game in honour of the Aberdeen side that won the European Cup Winners' Cup 25 years ago in Gothenburg, when Ferguson was their manager.
On Saturday a first-half penalty from Michael Carrick and a Wayne Rooney header after the break gave United a comfortable win. Ferguson was pleased with the run-out and especially the contribution of Rooney. He said: "It was a good day for me, it was emotional driving up to the stadium and seeing people you haven't seen for years.
"It was our first game and it was quite an open match and easy for both teams. They had a couple of chances and we had to defend well at times so it was good. Wayne had a couple of chances in the first half and made some nice runs round the shoulders of defenders which could have got us a couple of goals. He made the goal and scored the header so he will be happy."
Ferguson refused to comment on the recent claim by the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, that Ronaldo was being treated like a "modern-day slave" by United, who are refusing to allow his desired move to Real Madrid. However, Bryan Robson, a former United captain, said the Portuguese winger was happy at Old Trafford and would remain with the club.
Robson, who works for United in an ambassadorial role, was the subject of overseas interest in his playing days but opted to stay. He said: "In 1983 I was wanted by three Italian clubs – AC Milan, Sampdoria and Juventus.
"Transfer fees weren't as high then but it would have been a world-record fee, only for United to price me out of a move. It was a similar situation to the one Cristiano is in now, in that United wouldn't let me go for what would have been a world-record fee. I was happy to stay and I think Ronaldo is happy at the club too. He might have small doubts but I think all the media hype and what has been coming out of Spain has really blown the situation out of proportion.
"And I see Ronaldo, once he is over his ankle operation, being part of the team."Reuse content