• FA Cup

Fulham hoping Berbatov shoots down United

ESPN staff
January 24, 2013
Dimitar Berbatov is capable of scoring on the biggest of occasions © PA Photos

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Fulham manager Martin Jol is hoping Dimitar Berbatov will score a hat-trick on his first return to Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United last summer.

Berbatov, 31, left United to join Fulham in August for £5 million after struggling to hold down a first-team place in the latter part of his stay in Manchester.

Jol takes his side to United this weekend for an FA Cup fourth-round clash and the Cottagers boss would love nothing more than to see his striker get one over his old side.

Asked if he expected a big performance from Berbatov on Saturday, Jol said in the Guardian: "You can write that but don't let me say that. Because if you are going to Man United  they are Man United and we are Fulham, away from home. But I would love to see him score a hat-trick or something over there. But it won't be easy."

Berbatov has scored seven goals in 20 appearances since his move down south, with the former Bulgaria international often having to drop into a deeper role for the benefit of the team.

"The problem for me with Dimitar is that I need him in midfield and I need him up front," Jol said. "When he plays up front, he doesn't always see a lot of the ball. And then we would like him in midfield because he is a great No. 10.

"But every time he is in midfield, you lack a front player, so we've got to find the right balance. Sometimes we try to do that with [Hugo] Rodallega and sometimes with [Mladen] Petric but we haven't found the right combination yet."

Struggling to find the correct balance has seen Fulham fade from one the league's most entertaining sides at the beginning of the season to a struggling club in danger of being dragged into a relegation fight.

"The first three months of the season we scored plenty of goals. Only United had scored more than us at one point," he said. "We played with [Bryan] Ruiz and Petric against Norwich for example and scored five goals. It is about our balance. For the last four weeks Giorgos [Karagounis] played in midfield. I always had Danny Murphy playing there last season."

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