Berbatov – Why he is wrong to take it personally

by Sam Peoples

As you may know, Dimitar Berbatov was quoted recently as saying he’s lost some respect for Sir Alex Ferguson. You always hate to hear a former player criticise the club, and this is a very strange comment after Berbatov was so patient and considerate when he was struggling to get playing time at United. Berbatov seems to have forgotten that the best teams need backup players and if there are no injuries, they may see little playing time.

You may also know that we had some problems keeping strikers fit before Berbatov arrived. It made sense for Sir Alex to want to have four quality strikers, as we were experiencing periods of weeks with only one fit striker because two were out injured. In Rooney and Tevez, we had two strikers who were rather similar, so it seemed natural to want to find a striker with different assets and strengths, and a little height.

Part of the problem is that the game has changed. In the last five to seven years we’ve seen the size of squads balloon among the top teams, and United is an excellent example. Anyone in such a large squad as a fourth choice striker will be left wanting game time if there are no injuries in that position. Every point, every goal is crucial, as we know too well. With the incredibly high stakes of the modern game, a top manager simply has no room for sentiment or putting a player before the team. And so even a top player like Berbatov may end up getting only 21 appearnaces in a season.

I don’t doubt that Sir Alex told Berabtov he was in his plans, but he shouldn’t have confused that for a guarantee of time on the field. Those plans were probably that he would provide injury cover, as Rooney and Welbeck have been known to miss several games a season to injury. In the case of last season this was rarely required. I’m sure Sir Alex chose his words carefully because he knows that circumstances can dictate that a squad player gets little game time.

I know that many supporters have felt bad that Berbatov didn’t get more games last season, but few supporters thought we would be better with Berbatov on the field. When you compare last season with Welbeck up front with the 2010-11 season, where Berbatov lead the league in goals, you see that last season brought nine more points, 11 more goals and four fewer goals conceded.

And that’s without Vidic, possibly our best player, for almost the whole season, Chicharito scoring fewer goals, missing Paul Scholes for half the season and the worst defensive crisis this team has likely ever seen.

As Berbatov himself mentioned, the game has move towards faster players and faster play. By his own admission, he does not possess great speed and liked to hold up the ball. Welbeck was a much better fit with our tactics being based on quickness and passing the ball on the ground.

It certainly would be odd for Berbatov to suggest Sir Alex didn’t value him. His insistence of playing him in the 2008-9 season seemed to cause major aggravation to Tevez, who felt like no matter how many goals he scored he would sit the next game. Berbatov was given many chances to shine, and unfortunately he struggled when we needed him the most.

While his scoring record in the Premier League of 48 goals in 108 games looks pretty good, he only scored five goals in 25 games in the Champions League and one goal in seven games in the FA Cup. His overall total of 56 goals in 149 games is more modest, but still something to be very proud of.

Berbatov has every right to have a moan about his lack of playing time, once he’s left the team, but he’s wrong to think it’s personal and a matter of Sir Alex not respecting him. Managers have to make hard decisions, and it’s crucial to keep from making decisions based on personal feelings. After showing such a dignified patience while a Manchester United player, something he should still be given credit for, he deserves citicism for attacking Sir Alex.

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Rhys 09/08/2012 - 10:35

Timbo, you’re clearly a bellend with far too much time on his hands. Berba was good but he scored most of his goals in just a few games. Don’t talk crap you moron.

timbo 09/07/2012 - 14:15

Note – that should say ‘approaches retirement’ in the fourth paragraph. I hit the wrong word in the spell-checker.

timbo 09/07/2012 - 14:11

What an utterly ridiculous piece. Given that Berbatov scored 7 league goals in just 12 appearances last season, not all of which were starts, you can hardly argue that his presence in the team hampered the side’s scoring ability. The previous season Rooney couldn’t hit the side of a barn door for the first half of it, yet appeared as if he’d have to go as far as murdering Fergie’s grandchildren in order to get himself kicked out of the side. So if anyone should have the finger pointed at them for reducing the team’s scoring opportunities it was the over-hyped English wonder – and a manager who applies a different set of rules to Rooney where form and behavior are concerned.

I would also suggest the author look to the games and minutes played by Rooney, Wellbeck, and Chicharito and compare them to the amount of goals scored in general play, then get back to us when comparing them to Berbatov’s figures.

Also, the author’s logic doesn’t bear close scrutiny when he can question Berbatov’s statement on the basis of how circumspect the Bulgarian had been while still with the team. Would it have been more preferable to launch into a scathing attack while still employed at Old Trafford? It’s all credit to the guy, and exemplifies what a class act and consummate professional he really is, that he held his tongue until AFTER he left the club so as not to disrupt the club. Anyone with half a brain would give him his due and appreciate that it was his right to have a long overdue say about the atrocious way he was treated by Ferguson, and in case you missed it, we do live in a democracy where free speech is allowed. And what did he actually say – that he’d lost some respect for the manager – wow, that’s really as nasty as it gets!

I would suggest that the author look back to two seasons ago at the manner in which Rooney held the club to ransom and completely undermined the club by the way he tried holding it hostage, not only on his wage demands, but in trying to impose his views on the fact the club needed to recruit appropriate personnel in order to keep him interested in a career with United. The way Fergie caved in was shocking, and showed just how much he’s prepared to look the other way where Rooney is concerned on matters of form and behaviour in order to try and look after his own legacy as he appearances retirement. The Fergie of old, putting club first, would have kicked Rooney’s butt right out the door. This is also the same unsavory creep, let’s not forget, who screwed around on his pregnant wife during the same season, swore at a sideline camera and cost United through the resulting suspension, then got embroiled in a nasty Twitter argument. Yet this idiotic author wants to talk about Berbatov’s supposed disrespect to the club?

Berbatov didn’t let United down, the manager simply screwed the deal up because he was never prepared to commit to Berbatov’s style nor to acknowledge that the idea the Bulgarian could replicate via Rooney his successful partnership with Keane failed miserably because of the Englishman’s chronic inability to mesh with just about any strike partner he’s ever had. Rooney is an EXTREMELY limited individual who sucks the best from everyone around him to be successful. He fits into Fergie’s notion of a good footballer simply because Fergie himself is a very limited manager who functions well within the scope of outdated bash and barge British football but can never come to terms with the finesse and detail of the superior European product, of which Berbatov is a stellar example. Only United could buy a player of such extraordinary gifts and squander those talents in such abysmal fashion because of its overeliance on such a flawed product as Rooney.

Finally, need I point out that the author’s argument regarding Berbatov’s demotion last season, supposedly because of the fewer points United scored in 2010-2011 when he played a more prominent role, resulted in the team finishing second last season, when the author’s prize triumvirate up front, together with the rest of the team, dropped their bundle and shot to pieces a 9 point lead over City with a mere handful of games remaining? They also went completely winless on the trophy front for the first time in years. Yep, there’s a stellar endorsement for dropping Berbatov after he’d led the team in scoring the previous year during a championship-winning season, while Rooney had put in arguably his worst season and done everything within his powers to distract the team with his ingoing behaviour on and off the pitch. As ever though, where the Englishman is concerned the arguments and excuses are trundled out with the same alacrity that they disappear where the Bulgarian is concerned.


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