Ferguson 'less optimistic' over Berbatov

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson's hopes of signing the Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov look to have hit problems. The Manchester United manager yesterday said he was "less optimistic" about adding to his squad before the transfer deadline.

Ferguson, who has been pursuing the Bulgarian in an attempt to add to United's goalscoring options, is not hopeful of signing the 27-year-old before the transfer window closes in less than two weeks' time. "I'm feeling less optimistic right now," said Ferguson yesterday, when asked whether he was more optimistic than he was two weeks ago about making any signings. "We are looking at something, but if it doesn't come off then we will carry on as we are."

Ferguson is keen to strengthen a squad which has been weakened by a string of injuries at the start of its title defence. Failure to make any signings will be viewed as a setback.

United are missing several key players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 42 times last season, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick. Ryan Giggs has also been out injured. Ronaldo has resumed light jogging and gym work since undergoing ankle surgery, although Ferguson is reluctant to put any time scale on his return.

Rafael Benitez, the Liverpool manager, said yesterday he would enter the final weeks of the transfer window working in tandem with the club's chief executive, Rick Parry, following talks aimed at resolving tensions between the pair. Benitez has been critical of Parry's failure to sign the Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry, whose transfer fell through due to Liverpool's refusal to meet an £18m price.

Benitez did not disclose who instigated the talks, which were held earlier this week. He said: "That's not important. What is important is that we had the meeting. It's clear that it was positive. We needed to talk and clarify the situation for the future of the club. All the problems have been resolved, so we are now progressing and trying to improve the squad."

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