BOLTON, January 16 – Sir Alex Ferguson believes Dimitar Berbatov is ready to explode into life as Manchester United look to replace Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table on Saturday.
Berbatov has found life tough since his 30-million-pound move from Tottenham earlier in the season, scoring four times in 17 league appearances.
But there are signs the Bulgarian international is starting to adapt to life at Old Trafford after finding the net twice in his last three league appearances.
Berbatov is poised to start United’s game at Bolton on Saturday where victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will see them go one point ahead of Liverpool at the summit.
"I am delighted with the way things are going an
d I am especially pleased by Dimitar Berbatov’s progress in settling into the team," said Ferguson.
"When you pay a lot of money for a player, he inevitably comes under close scrutiny.
"It happened to Juan Veron and Rio Ferdinand, and Dimitar has also suffered from the impatience of people when a new guy makes a big move.
"At Tottenham, he orchestrated most of their play and, if at times he has looked a bit isolated, it was because our players needed to adjust to him as much as he has needed to learn our ways.
"He has settled in very well and I have the feeling that we are about to see the best of Berbatov."
United make the short journey to Bolton in the best form of their
season. Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Wigan was their fourth straight league win since they were crowned World Club Champions in Japan in December.
Yet Ferguson knows his side will have to earn their place at the summit after losing to Bolton in the corresponding fixture last season.
United lost five times on their way to the title last season but one of those setbacks was at the Reebok Stadium, Nicolas Anelka, now at Chelsea, scoring the only goal of the game.
Bolton manager Gary Megson, whose side start the weekend three points above the relegation zone, is ready to give Ferguson the freedom of the Reebok after rubbishing Rafa Benitez’s claims that the Manchester United boss and his staff gang up on referees.
Liverpool boss Benitez urged Luiz Felipe Scolari to ‘zonal mark’ Ferguson and his coaches to prevent them from badgering referee Howard Webb during Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford last Sunday.
Ferguson hit back at Benitez by suggesting that the Spaniard was ‘di
sturbed’ when making his accusations against the United manager last week. But Megson said that he will not waste his time following Benitez’s advice.
"I don’t agree at all with what Rafa Benitez said about United’s coaches crowding the officials," added Megson, who has seen his side lose the last four games.
"From my experience, Sir Alex isn’t like that nor is Mickey Phelan, his assistant, who is a fantastic bloke and a guy I class as a good friend.
"There is a spat going on amongst the top four clubs and they are all at it, simply because they are all after that little advantage. They do it to put pressure on referees and stoke up their supporters.
"But speaking as somebody from outside the big four, I would say that they all get treated a little bit differently to the other sixteen anyway."
Megson admits that he is ready to look elsewhere for reinforcements after being priced out of a move for Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard.
Bolton are refusing to meet Fulham’s six million-pound asking price for the former Wigan man. "I gave them a figure for Bullard, but it wasn’t acceptable from their point of view, so we have now moved on," said Megson.