Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester: The Bulgarian Who Divided What Once Was United

Ben SchneiderContributor IJanuary 8, 2009

This article started as a comment and for that reason the layout is very special and the choice of words very passionate. Plus, I am German, so please excuse the flaws. I hope you enjoy it.

A lot of debating has taken place since the Bulgarian's move to Old Trafford, and while few doubt his overall ability many fans have criticised Berbatov for a lack of goals and effort.

This article is a direct response to Steven Ho's "2008/2009: The Season So Far: Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez." I recommend you to read that article, too.

Carlos Tevez being restricted to a handful of appearances this season and still scoring vital (Stoke) and big match goals (Liverpool), along with his man of the match display against Blackburn, led some of the fans and media alike to question Berbatov's status as first choice striker.

I decided to put the finger on both strikers' roles in making the goals against the former two teams as a prelude to the analysis of the Bulgarian's unique contribution to Manchester United.

Berbatov assisted the goal against pool at full speed under pressure with the kind of awareness you wouldn't expect from Tevez. Finishing it off in the box with free sight on goal and the keeper coming back to position from the near post was the easier task by far.

Against Stoke he did the unthinkable. It obviously was a cross, for a shot it lacked power and precision. I agree that he probably had not spotted Tevez, but (and here it comes...) he knew that a shot in this situation and from this position would never find the goal.

And that's what puts him above of most players (including Rooney, Tevez, and Ronaldo): his decision making.

Instead of going for the goal of the century he went for a cross, hoping that with the whole team on the front foot someone may be rushing in. Not only did he make the right choice, he also played the ball through the tiniest of holes right to the position where a clearance is so difficult to make that chances were high for an own goal to happen.

The goal against Borough was a cheap one, but vital. His assist against West Ham was a supreme piece of skill and his contribution against Southampton showed his importance to the play of United even without scoring.

Unlike Rooney and Tevez he rarely loses possession or misplaces a pass, even though an extraordinary amount of his passes are quite inventive. He doesn't make a lot of high tempo runs with or without the ball; he brings pace to the game utilizing his positional sense and exceptional passing.

Scholes is exemplary. The best way of good defending isn't losing the ball and chasing it out of position, but not losing it at all.

Why do you think SAF is so obsessed with an offensive midfielder that never runs with the ball, hasn't hit a goal streak during the last five years, and wouldn't win a tackle if his life depended on it?

Do you really believe he starts Berbatov in all the big games even though Tevez had a great first season and was first choice at the beginning of this one because he fears his sulking?

If he wasn't satisfied with him, SAF wouldn't play him. The first sign of sulking resulting in the hairdryer-no-one-is-bigger-than-the-club-now-clear-your-locker-combination.
He finished Roy Keane's career and that player was an icon for what felt like forever.

Tevez is the kind of player fans love. He runs like they would if they were given the chance and celebrates like they do when they score for their pub team.

Berbatov is the kind of player fans envy and hate—the cocky beau who is playing on another level and let's you know it without even breaking a sweat while you are close to a stroke.

But the funny thing is, Berbatov doesn't let you know; he simply cannot hide the obvious. Still, I am pretty sure he is quite a humble guy, even more so if you compare him with camera-man Cristiano, Rooney, who still thinks he can and has to win games on his own, or Tevez, the self-declared people's champ who says he will sign for the next club offering him a five-year contract being fully aware of his ridiculous transfer fee.

So let's make peace with the Bulgarian. Things are not always as simple as you want them to be.