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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Sir Alex leaps to defence of Berbatov

Sir Alex Ferguson has leapt to the defence of record signing Dimitar Berbatov, the man who shouldered the majority of the blame for Manchester United's penalty shoot-out defeat in the FA Cup semi-final with Everton. The critics were out in force again following Berbatov's woeful penalty miss; the Bulgarian's £30.75million transfer fee has been the subject of considerable debate almost since the day he moved north from Tottenham last summer.

Ferguson confirmed the 28-year-old was upset before defending his contribution to the Old Trafford cause.

"He will get criticism because when you pay £30million for a player everyone thinks he should be able to score with a penalty kick," said Ferguson.

"He was upset and disappointed, as we all were.

"But I don't see any evidence of Berbatov's season tailing off.

"He has missed a few games and overall yesterday, I thought he did really well."

While Ferguson's desire for victory could not be questioned after his rant at referee Mike Riley for failing to give a spot-kick when Danny Welbeck was brought down by Phil Jagielka in the second half, the Scot is not getting too down about the defeat.

After winning three successive shoot-outs, including last season's Champions League final, he knew a defeat was inevitable at some stage.

"Anyone can lose out a penalty kick shoot-out," he said.

"I cannot look upon it as a definition of the team's record. It is done, we just have to move on."

Ferguson meanwhile has no regrets over his controversial team selection.

The Red Devils chief has been accused of demeaning the competition by fielding a team packed with youngsters at Wembley, with four teenagers in the side that lost a penalty shoot-out to Everton.

"I am absolutely convinced I picked the right team," he said. "I have no regrets about it at all. I knew there would be some criticism because it did not work for us.

"What I did was make sure our supporters were going to see a representation, not just of the future, but a squad that is strong enough to be able to cope.

"That is the issue. We have a strong enough squad to do these things. That is credit to the way we have planned it over the last two years."

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