Alex Ferguson admits worries over Manchester United's lack of goals

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he has misgivings about Manchester United's ability to score enough goals to win a fourth successive Premier League title. Their total of 68 last season was the lowest of Ferguson's 11 title-winning campaigns and there are concerns within Old Trafford about Michael Owen's confidence in front of goal as well as the malfunctioning partnership between Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov.
United have scored only once in their opening two games, Rooney's winner against Birmingham City last weekend, and Ferguson's message to his strikers is that they need to ease the burden on a defence that will be without the injured Rio Ferdinand for up to another month. "The ratio of goals last season was our poorest for 15 years in terms of goal difference," Ferguson said. "That was an issue last term and it's going to be an issue this season unless our strikers step up to the mark."
By that, he was referring in particular to Owen, whose form on United's pre-season tour to Asia has deserted him and whose confidence looked broken when the champions lost 1-0 at Burnley on Wednesday. Ferguson remains supportive of his summer signing but the manager did not dispute that Owen had started slowly. "A lot of players over the years come to the club and take to it like a duck to water. Some need time. He will be all right."
Berbatov's apparent inability to forge a potent partnership with Rooney is another concern, the two strikers having created only a goal apiece for each other in almost a year of being in the same team. United have a huge shortfall to make up now that Cristiano Ronaldo and, to a lesser extent, Carlos Tevez have left the club and Ferguson seemed to indicate that Berbatov, like Owen, was struggling for confidence.
"He would like to score a goal," Ferguson said. "Strikers are like that. They always feel as if scoring is the most important thing. That's the case with Dimitar. He had a couple of attempts [against Burnley] and he also had a header cleared off the line against Birmingham. He has a languid style and maybe that's the thing that is counting against him – his style of play, rather than his actual effect on the game."
The news that Ferdinand's thigh injury is more serious than first thought is offset by the return of a fit-again Nemanja Vidic when United travel to Wigan Athletic today. However, it is clearly at the other end of the field that Ferguson is most concerned, despite reiterating that he would not be buying anyone before the transfer window closes.
Owen had a shocking evening at Turf Moor, substituted 63 minutes into a match in which the watching England manager Fabio Capello will have seen little reason to restore him to the national squad.
"Michael is exactly the same as Dimitar," Ferguson said. "He could do with a goal. He had two [chances] on Wednesday and should have scored both of them. He knows that. He will be wanting that goal but there's no question about it that his movement and positional play in the last third is very, very good. We are just waiting on that goal that will set him off."
That opportunity could have arrived when United won a penalty against Burnley but the responsibility was given to Michael Carrick whose effort was saved. "Michael said he felt confident taking penalty-kicks," Ferguson explained. "He asked to take it and he had never missed a penalty in all our shoot-outs over the last few years. He was a confident choice."
Nonetheless, that decision will now be reviewed. "Anderson can take a penalty kick, [Ryan] Giggs can take a penalty-kick," the manager added. "They have both been successful over the last few years."
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