Dimitar Berbatov: A case for the defence


It has been almost taken as fact in recent years that Dimitar Berbatov’s stay at Manchester United has largely been a failure. This article will seek to dispel such myths and explains why the talented striker should be praised and not be classed as another big buy flop.

Manchester United paid a hefty £30M to secure the services of Berbatov on a dramatic transfer deadline day swoop back in 2008. It is this price tag that has led many to place Berbatov in the failure category, an almost inevitability considering the price tag. The initial comparisons to a former United hero in the shape of Eric Cantona was the ultimate compliment to the technical abilities of the Bulgarian international. Berbatov and Rooney was meant to create a perfectly balanced partnership with Rooney’s driving energy making up for Berbatov’s more conservative approach. There is a school of thought in England that having bundles of energy is somehow better than having superior technical abilities. This is an inherent problem that has been highlighted by the difference in youth coaching standards in England compared to nations such as Spain or Italy. It is mainly this perception of football that has led many to discount Berbatov as another Veron or Forlan.

Similar to Forlan’s status in Spain Berbatov is highly respected in Germany where he played for Bayer Leverkusen. Indeed this also the case with Tottenham where fans view his stint there as a success without the price tag to blur their vision. Indeed he should be with a strike rate of 46 goals in 102 games overall and picking up a League Cup the season after being nominated Tottenham’s player of the season for the 2006-07 season. Giving consideration to these facts and the hyper inflation of the transfer market in recent years Berbatov surely was worth the £30M Sir Alex Ferguson paid to bring the striker to Manchester United. This also helps to dispel the myth that Berbatov has been a failure due to his inability to adapt to the English style of play where he settled comfortably into a highly talented Spurs side.

Berbatov’s time at Manchester United on the silverware front has been a success winning two Premier League medals, another League Cup, the Community Shield and the FIFA Club World Cup. His personal achievement of sharing the golden boot with Tevez with 20 goals in United’s title winning campaign of 2010/11 should automatically qualify him as a hero and something his predecessor Cantona failed to achieve which should place it into its proper context for United fans. Facts do not lie, but perceptions can be dangerously misleading.

Many will point to the fact Sir Alex Ferguson left him out of the squad for the Champions League final against Barcelona in May 2011. Berbatov should only be applauded for his conduct since that huge disappointment. He has treated the manager and the club with the utmost respect and although frustrated at a lack of games has not thrown his toys out of the pram in the way Carlos Tevez had done for Manchester City last season, or when Ruud Van Nistelrooy was left on the bench for a Carling Cup final. Although sometimes frustrating on the pitch such characters in the modern game who demonstrate such loyalty and respect should only be held in high esteem by the fans.

Football fans long for those special moments in the season and Premier League highlight reels will have plenty of exposure for Berbatov with his magnificent first touches and those wonder goals such as the bicycle kick against Liverpool as part of a hat-trick performance. Perhaps if Berbatov does leave Old Trafford for pastures new then United fans will have a renewed sense of what has been lost within the squad with such impressive statistics to ponder over.

Tomos Llewellyn

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