Ferguson: Berbatov was not a failure
Sir Alex Ferguson is adamant Dimitar Berbatov should not be regarded as a £30million failure at Manchester United.
Berbatov will return to Old Trafford on Saturday for the first time since his four-year United stay came to an end with a summer switch to Fulham.
Debate still rages amongst the Red Devils faithful about the Bulgarian's merits.
Some point to his hat-trick against Liverpool in September 2010 or the five goals he belted past Blackburn three months later, which helped win the Golden Boot prize along with Carlos Tevez and formed part of an overall tally of 57 goals in 149 appearances, as evidence of genuine class.
Others argue a succession of lacklustre displays - and the fact Ferguson did not even give him a place on the bench for the 2011 Champions League final - is proof of a limited contribution.
In the end, even Ferguson concedes Berbatov was eased out because Javier Hernandez made more of an impact.
But he refuses to accept the 31-year-old was a waste of time.
"I don't think Dimitar was a failure here," said Ferguson.
"Some people like to see players run through brick walls all the time.
"Dimitar is not that type of player, but he is very talented player and he had a decent goalscoring record here."
The argument goes that Berbatov is better at a club like Fulham, where Martin Jol can construct a team around him, than United, where he was just one of a number of superstars.
Ferguson does not accept the verdict.
"That was not a problem for him," said Ferguson.
"The problem for him here was the way we wanted to play and the selections I had to make.
"When you have choices you hope to make the right one. Javier Hernandez had a fantastic first season with us and as time went on he became a more regular player than Dimitar."
Managing players has always been one of Ferguson's major strengths, which is why he is adopting the right tone with goalkeeper David de Gea, who has been the focus of so much attention this week.
De Gea's weak punch in the build-up to Tottenham's injury-time equaliser last week has been condemned by Gary Neville and dismissed by Peter Schmeichel.
Ferguson must find the middle ground, which today meant rejecting the entire media debate.
"I'm not getting into that at all," he said.
"You have to listen to some idiots in the game."
Instead, while his team enjoyed some sunshine on their short break in Qatar, Ferguson was preparing his response to the Football Association's request for 'observations' about his post-match attack on assistant referee Simon Beck at White Hart Lane.
Those views were received last night and Ferguson will learn on Tuesday whether or not he is going to be charged.
Not that he has any great faith in the entire disciplinary system.
"I wouldn't bet on that," he said. "I have put my letter in, we will see what happens."
As appears to be the case ahead of every FA Cup tie United play these days, Ferguson underlined how keen he is to win the tournament for a sixth time given the last of his previous five came in 2004.
With Darren Fletcher ruled out for the remainder of the season, only Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have won the trophy as United players, whilst Robin van Persie was a substitute when Arsenal beat the Red Devils on penalties in 2005.
"We all know at this club that we haven't done well in this tournament for a few years now," said Ferguson.
"It's a cup which has fantastic appeal given our record in it. We have the benefit of a home draw, which I always say we would want."
Yet other challenges cannot be ignored either and Ferguson was eager to reject speculation Ashley Young's knee injury was serious enough to condemn him to an extended period on the sidelines, which would rule him out of both Champions League games against Real Madrid.
"I am sure (he will be fit)," said Ferguson.
"He trained a bit in Qatar. Not a lot, but at least he is on the road back."