Sir Alex Ferguson has urged Manchester United's goal-shy strikers to take inspiration from the performances of Dimitar Berbatov after the Bulgarian centre-forward bagged his third hat-trick of the season.
Berbatov took his goals tally for the season to 18 goals yesterday as United crushed Birmingham City 5-0 at Old Trafford. The striker's treble was the latest impressive contribution to United's 21-game unbeaten run since the Premier League season began.
However Ferguson believes that United's other strikers must start chipping in with more goals if the club are to maintain their run. So far Wayne Rooney has bagged only three goals this season - two from the penalty spot - while Javier Hernandez and Nani are in single digits.
"Dimitar is getting up towards that 20-goal mark, which is going to be important for us," said Ferguson. "It does put a certain brand mark on the team and hopefully we will get another one to that level too. Once you do that you know it is a substantial season."
Berbatov's latest hat-trick saw him equal Ruud van Nistelrooy's club record from the 2002-2003 season by scoring three trebles in a season. The current Premier League record for hat-tricks in a season is five, scored by Alan Shearer during the 1995-1996 campaign. The all-time record is held by United legend Denis Law, who struck seven hat-tricks in the old First Division in 1963-64.
"Dimitar is realising his ability," said Ferguson. "The other players sense it too. They are playing their part in playing with him. He has special qualities. I think we are using them."