Berbatov: Not playing is painful
Dimitar Berbatov has admitted it hurts to be little more than a bit-part player in Manchester United's Premier League title quest - but is ready and willing to make an impact when required. The Bulgarian has made just ten league appearances so far this season, only half of which were starting spots.
He scored on the last occasion, against Stoke on 31 January, but was not even on the bench for the win over former club Tottenham Hotspur a week ago. It is not quite how Berbatov thought his career would pan out when he joined United from Spurs for a club record £30.75m in 2008.
"It's just about being ready," he told United Review. "We have a big squad and you know sometimes you are not going to play. It's sad and it's painful but you need to be strong and be prepared for when your team-mates need your help. We are a team and we want to win together."
Despite his lack of appearances, Berbatov is still United's joint third top scorer with an overall tally of nine. That figures includes five in two games against Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers just after Christmas. "Every time I have played I think I have done well," he said. "I'm ready and waiting whenever the boss gives me a chance to show my quality and deliver. I want to do as much as I can to help us win the title."
Berbatov will be hoping for some involvement in tomorrow's Old Trafford encounter with West Bromwich Albion. Leaders Manchester City play at Swansea City at the same time and Sir Alex Ferguson has already noted Blues boss Roberto Mancini getting involved in the mind games he has been so adept at playing.
The Italian claimed last week that United would win at Tottenham a day before the match was played. Ferguson said: "We were better in the second half and ran out winners - just as Roberto Mancini said we would.....welcome to the mind games Roberto, by the way!"
Ferguson views that 3-1 triumph as "pivotal" although he acknowledges there are a few twists and turns still to come. "I am pretty sure we will experience some hectic finishes this March, as the pace hots up with the finishing line in sight," he said. "But I think we can count on the players getting to grips with the situation."