Dimitar Berbatov’s five-star performance against Blackburn yesterday is dominating the headlines, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few good stories hidden in the shadows of the Bulgarian’s brilliance. The main focus of today’s Stretty Stories will of course be the reaction to Berbatov’s sensational performance, but there’s also stories of Tom Cleverley drawing praise and Sir Alex’s interest in Bastian Schweinsteiger.
After a two-month goal drought, the floodgates burst open for Dimitar Berbatov yesterday as he put five past Paul Robinson in United’s 7-1 victory over Blackburn. The Bulgarian hadn’t scored since his hat trick against Liverpool in September, and surprised himself with his five-goal performance on Saturday. Speaking of his achievement, Berbatov said, “I can’t believe I scored five. I have scored five before but it was a long time ago back home. To do it in the Premier League and stand next to Shearer and Andy Cole is a great honour.” His five against Blackburn bring Berbatov’s tally to 12 in all competitions, equalising his total from last season.
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Edwin van der Sar will call time on his illustrious career at the conclusion of this season. The Dutch goalkeeper has not given the gaffer his final decision yet, but Sir Alex is already planning for the future assuming Van der Sar will retire. Sir Alex thinks Van der Sar would retire before he could do any damager to his legacy: “All of a sudden, because of age, (Peter) Shilton’s form just collapsed and I don’t think Edwin would want that. He is such a proud man and it’s going to be a big loss.” Van der Sar’s wife Annemarie suffered a brain haemorrhage last December, and it is believed he would like to retire to spend more time with her. United have already signed Anders Lindegaard as a possible replacement, but Sir Alex admits he is still considering the addition of another goalkeeper.
Tom Cleverley’s manager on loan at Wigan – Roberto Martinez – was full of praise ahead of there 3-1 loss to West Ham on Saturday in which the England U-21 scored his first goal for the club. Martinez claims he sees a bright future for the 21-year-old in the England national team. Cleverley joined Wigan on a season-long loan in August, but Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested that the midfielder may return to Old Trafford in January. Martinez had this to say about Cleverley’s ability: “Tom’s tactical awareness is not normal for such a young man. I don’t think we have seen many cases like him before.”
With contract negotiations stalling between Bastian Schweinsteiger and Bayern Munich, there is growing speculation that the German midfielder may be preparing to depart with Old Trafford a possible destination. The Sunday Mirror is reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson may make a move worth £12 million for Schweinsteiger in January. Chelsea and Manchester City are also thought to be interested, and Sir Alex would prefer to complete a deal now rather than financially compete with other clubs in summer.
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