I’ve defended him over the years when many people wanted his head after his casual penalty miss against Everton in the F.A Cup semi-final, and when he failed to produce as we drew 0-0 at Ewood park and effectively threw away the league. I even got into a very heated argument with my brother right before last season. So you can imagine my joy when Dimitar started last season in brilliant form as he shot out of the traps scoring seven goals in six games. We were struggling, but the form of Nani and Berbatov kept the team going.
Then Berbatov went through a 10 game barren spell where his early season confidence vanished into thin air. Low points include one of the worst performances of the season against Bursapor where he moaned his way through the match as his frustrations grew and he was then left out of the squad altogether against both Wolves and Wigan. It seemed Berbatov’s season was going straight down the toilet, until the 27th of November that is. Berba returned to the team and it took him less then a couple of minutes to poke the ball past a limping Paul Robinson. You could see the share mixture of joy and relief in his face as his confidence bounced back and he went to 4 more goals in that game and 3 more in his next two starts.
As Rooney continued to miss fire in front of goal, it was Berbatov again who was the man putting the ball into the back of net. The switch of form was enormous that it was Rooney who was taken off for the oncoming Hernandez as United were two-nil down against Blackpool. United would go on to win 3-2 with Berbatov and Hernandez scoring the goals. For Dimitar Berbatov everything was going great. That was until an away trip to Wigan saw the beginning of a fantastic partnership. With a two crunch games against Chelsea and Liverpool to follow, many presumed that Berbatov was being saved for more important games as he sat on the bench against Wigan. However, Hernandez took his chance emphatically and scored two goals in a 4-0 rout at the DW stadium. From then on Berbatov would only start 5 more games as the season reached it denouement.
He still made an impact from the bench, scoring the last gasp winner against Bolton, and coming on to change the game against West Ham and when Wayne Rooney got handed a two-game ban for swearing at a camera (*face-palm*) it gave Berbatov a chance to regain a place in the team. He started off well scoring in the two-nil victory against Fulham to take his to 20 Premier League goals, but he blew it completely against City in the F.A Cup semi-final, missing two golden chances in the first few minutes. United would go on to lose the game to our bitter neighbors and it was the day that I began to feel that he should go in the summer.
Without Berbatov this season, we wouldn’t have won the league, theres no doubt about it. His twenty Premier League goals were crucial in winning the 19th, but will he get anywhere near that total next season as a 3rd striker? In my opinion, not a chance. Dimitar Berbatov is the ultimate confidence player, he needs to have a run of games and he needs to be believed in. Rooney and Hernandez are firmly are first choice strike force, Michael Owen has signed on and been promised more games, while Welbeck and Macheda shown on tour that they want to make it in the first team. So competition is high, and you can imagine the pressure on all our strikers to deliver when they get a chance. High pressure situations aren’t exactly Berbatov’s strong point.
If you consider big games against the likes of Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, Berbatov in his United career has only managed 5 goals. Three of which game against Liverpool last season when they were in the bottom three. One came against Chelsea in the Community Shield. Dimitar has also failed to score in the Champions League since his brace against Celtic way back in October 2008. Doesn’t make for pretty reading does it?
I love Berbatov, if you watch his interviews you can see how much he respects this club, unlike a certain ungrateful twat player that is constantly moaning for Manchester City. He’s a respectful man, and hasn’t deserved some of the abuse he gets off certain United fans. His 30 million price tag has been always used against him, luckily his twenty goal haul last season in the league will ensure he won’t be labelled a ‘flop’. However, despite all that if rumors are true and PSG are willing to gives us 15+ million for our 30 year old, third striker who only has one year left on his contract, then I’d think we would be insane to turn that down. That money could be used to help finance the Sneijder deal (I don’t care what SAF keeps saying, we all know we are in for him) and it would also free up the wage bill for the mega-earner Sneijder.
If Berbatov does depart this summer, I will be sad to see him go, he has provided us with some fantastic moments. The hat-trick against the Scousers and Birmingham, his five star performance and five goal haul against Blackburn, ‘this piece of skill against West Ham’, the bicycle kick against Sunderland among a few others. Thank you for everything so far Berbatov, if you do leave then I wish all the best in your future.
Read more of Ryan’s work at his excellent aite We Are United.