It was Berbatov’s relationship with Martin Jol – who managed the striker when
they were both at Tottenham five years ago – that was a key factor in the
player rejecting the overtures from White Hart Lane. Berbatov remembered how
much his former manager Jol had wanted him to stay at Spurs, rather than
Tottenham had been so upset about Berbatov leaving in 2008 – after Jol had
been sacked – that they compiled a dossier for the
The Bulgarian had delivered a parting shot at Sir Alex Ferguson for a “lack of
respect” when he left United and, after troubling
“Now that I play for Fulham, I just want to show that I appreciate that they took me to the club. I know the coach, he trusts me. I feel good if the coach trusts the way I play and you saw that with the way I performed on the pitch.”
Berbatov left defender Gareth McAuley in no-man’s land with his well-timed run before curling in from 16 yards to make it 1-0. He then sent goalkeeper Ben Foster the wrong way with a penalty.
Marking Berbatov was a highly problematic task as he drifted between midfield and attack. Even Youssuf Mulumbu – deployed by the visitors as a specialist defensive midfielder – could not contain him.
Berbatov linked up well with Steve Sidwell, the midfielder who fired in a late third. When Sidwell was asked if Berbatov could be top scorer again, he replied: “Of course. Why not? Football’s all about confidence and what a way to start.”
This match would have been far less comfortable for Fulham had Peter Odemwingie not been sent off for kicking out at Sascha Riether soon after the first goal. Odemwingie apologised but explained: “I felt a kick on my ankle from behind and then I got angry. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I just wanted to foul so I could stop the game and ask the referee and linesman why I didn’t get a free-kick. But I did react with too much aggression.”