Martin Jol expects Dimitar Berbatov to receive a positive reception from the Manchester United crowd when the Whites travel to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon (5.30pm).
The Fourth Round FA Cup with Budweiser tie will see Berbatov come up against former side for the first time since his summer transfer to Craven Cottage, and our Manager insists the Bulgarian was a success in Manchester.
“He gave them exactly what they wanted,” Jol explained. “They won prizes in the first couple of years that he was there so I think he did well.
“He is not 18 or 19 so I don’t need to protect him or talk about Man United and, hopefully, they will give him a good reception. That’s always nice and I think they were pretty happy with him over there and why not, because he was doing well for them.”
The striker’s Old Trafford career was chequered at times, with Berbatov often not Sir Alex Ferguson’s preferred choice up front. However, he could still boast an enviable scoring record of more than one goal every three games for the Reds.
“He scored goals because he’s a gifted goalscorer,” Jol said. “He can score from all angles and he did that for United. I can remember him not playing all the time and he was still their top scorer. Last year he didn’t play but he still got almost 10 goals without playing [that often].
“He won prizes there – that is why he went there. He was with me at Tottenham Hotspur and he said ‘boss, I want to go to United because I can see them winning the Champions League.’”
Berbatov’s return to Manchester was always going to receive increased media attention but our Manager emphasised that a positive result on Saturday will be due to a strong Fulham performance, rather than the individual display of our number nine.
“I don’t want to put pressure on him,” he stated. “Hopefully he will do something nice but, for me, it’s important that he works for the Team. He knows the position; we are not in a great position, we need the points [in the league] and we would love to go to the next round [of the FA Cup] even though we’re playing against Manchester United.“If we have a good day then maybe we could end up with a surprise so, hopefully, Berbatov will come up with something out of the blue, but that is the same for the other players too. Hopefully they will do something there. Last year [August 2012] we scored a couple of goals which was good and, hopefully, we can do that again.”