Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed he is "less optimistic" of bringing any new faces into the club before the transfer deadline closes at the end of the month. Ferguson has been pursuing Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov this summer, yet he is not holding his breath about signing the 27-year-old Bulgarian before the transfer shutters come down.
Asked whether he was any more optimistic than he was two weeks ago about completing any signings, Ferguson replied: "."
United, the reigning Premier League champions, have been hit by a string of injuries at the start of the 2008/09 campaign. They are missing several key players including Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 42 times last season, Owen Hargreaves and Ryan Giggs.
Ronaldo has resumed light jogging and gym work since undergoing ankle surgery, while Hargreaves and Giggs are expected to return from their respective knee and hamstring injuries soon. But the spate of injuries has prompted Ferguson to move to strengthen his squad, and failure to bring in any new faces before the deadline will be viewed as a setback.
United have a free weekend to prepare to play Portsmouth on Monday, when they will look to bounce back from an unspectacular 1-1 draw with Newcastle United in the opening round last weekend.
Faith in Ferdinand
Ferguson insists England coach Fabio Capello's decision to overlook Rio Ferdinand for the captaincy of the national side will not impact on the United defender. The Italian opted to hand the role to Chelsea's John Terry, but the Scot believes Ferdinand will not let the disappointment hit his performances.
"It was always going to be a close call," Ferguson remarked. "But I'm sure it will not affect him. He's proved himself as a centre-back and it was purely a choice the England manager had to make."
Ferguson revealed that Mikael Silvestre was midway through a medical at neighbours Manchester City when he received a call from Arsenal. The 31-year-old French defender joined the Gunners from United this week after nine years of service at Old Trafford.
Silvestre had talks with City, but had second thoughts when Arsene Wenger made it clear he wanted him at Arsenal. "Manchester City came on the scene and he was halfway through a medical with them when he got a phone call and went to Arsenal," said Ferguson. "We recognise the service he has given us and we wish him well."