Friday 23 March 2018

Berbatov joins the celebrations as United parade through Manchester

Rio Ferdinand addresses fans during Manchester United's Premier League victory parade through Manchester. Photo: Press Association
Rio Ferdinand addresses fans during Manchester United's Premier League victory parade through Manchester. Photo: Press Association
Edwin van der Sar, Dimitar Berbatov and Luis Nani pictured at the front of the open-top bus. Photo: PA

Simon Stone

Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov was part of the club's rain-sodden Premier League trophy parade this morning.

Berbatov was surprisingly omitted from manager Sir Alex Ferguson's squad for Saturday's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley.

It has raised huge question marks of the Bulgarian's Old Trafford future and many wondered whether the 30-year-old would be in Manchester this morning for an open-topped bus journey from the city centre to Stretford.

However, Berbatov was amongst the squad that assembled at Manchester Arena this morning, along with the rest of Ferguson's squad.

In keeping with the mood of gloom that followed Saturday's defeat, grey skies opened overnight and the rain poured as United made their way down Deansgate.

Along with Berbatov, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen were also present despite huge uncertainty over their futures.

Owen's contract has expired and so far there has been no announcement on the possibility of an extension, even though the 31-year-old has confirmed he would love to stay on.

Scholes has been offered a one-year extension but has refused to confirm whether he wants to accept it or not.

Indeed, there has been speculation in some quarters that Scholes has already decided to leave but was persuaded by Ferguson to remain silent in order not to disturb preparations for Saturday's game.


Meanwhile, Patrice Evra wants to chance to tackle Barcelona again in next year's Champions League final.

After suffering their second defeat on such an occasion in three seasons at the weekend, United could be forgiven for wanting to avoid the Catalans for a little while.

As Barcelona's average age is younger than their own, United might wonder if it is possible for them ever to get the better of Lionel Messi and company, who destroyed them with an awesome passing display.

However, rather than be fearful, Evra is already steeling himself for the challenge of a rematch in Munich 12 months from now.

"Manchester United never die," he told MUTV.

"We are not afraid. I want to come back to the final and play against Barcelona again.

"Manchester United had a good season - not a great season because we didn't win on Saturday night.

"But we have still won the league and we are going to win the league again next year, and make sure we win the Champions League as well."

Republic of Ireland international John O'Shea, who also missed out on a place on the bench against Barca, claimed the parade would help his team-mates get over their defeat.

"With the weather, we wondered if anyone would turn out," he told MUTV. "We never should have doubted it.

"It makes you realise how important this club is to people and will help the players get over what happened on Saturday."

Owen once again confirmed his desire to remain at Old Trafford and claimed Saturday's defeat should not be allowed to put a dampener on the season as a whole.

"When you start every season the first objective is to win the league," he said.

"What happened at the weekend should not be allowed to detract from that.

"I have loved every minute; we have great players, great staff, great manager and great fans. Hopefully it can continue."

England striker Wayne Rooney has already set his sights on securing title number 20.

"Winning the league is a massive achievement," he said.

"We have to forget about what happened on Saturday and move on.

"The idea now is to win the 20th. We will be fighting hard to make sure we are there again next season."

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