Efficiency of Action Means Berbatov Is Preferred

Roland ChuaContributor IMay 7, 2009

BOLTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 17:  Dimitar Berbatov (R) of Manchester United celebrates with team mate Carlos Teve after scoring in the final minutes during the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United at the Reebok stadium on January 17, 2009 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

I base my article around the two Champions League semifinal matches, where the same trends were observed.

In both matches, we both witnessed a side that had much more possession and had a higher pass completion ratio, namely Barca and Arsenal, play against sides that had less possession and less pass completion ratio.

Yet, the stats lie. Chelsea were dominant against Barca and had the best chances of the match, which they failed to convert. Peter Cech hardly made a save. United, too, were supremely dominant and were not troubled by the Arsenal offence.

I pinpoint this to the fact that Chelsea and United play effective football, and choose not to pass the ball around the penalty box while probing for holes in the opponent defence. On the other hand, you have the idealists who want to score a 50-pass goal, where eight outfield players are involved in the build-up, which would make the goal truly magnificent.



Tevez is definitely a bundle of energy. When on the field, he is always chasing down defenders and diving into blocking tackles. Sometimes, even with his head. How often do you see that?

It is that energy and passion for the game that endears him to the fans. Chants of "Argentina" ring throughout the stadium when United aren't doing well in an offensive point of view, and Tevez is on the bench. The fans want his energy.

However, my question to you is, is Tevez truly efficient?

Often I have seen Tevez chasing players down. Yes, that is a good thing. But it starts becoming a little stupid when you're the only player upfront chasing players down, when the rest of your team are retreating into their defensive positions to organise for the next wave of opposition attack. It allows the defensive four to pass triangles around you, and is an immense waste of energy.

There are many times where Tevez has been in the game during the early stages, because he still has lots of energy. However, when it is wasted and there is no end product, Tevez fades away after the 60th minute, when his energy is needed most to run a tired defence down.



Berbatov is a whole different kind of player. You often hear terms like "languid" or "lazy" describing him. Fans have been booing him, as they claim that he does not play for the team.

Let's disregard Fergie's ego, where he wants to prove that he has made a good signing for 30 million pounds. Why does Berbatov start over Tevez?

My answer: Berbatov brings to the team efficiency in attack. With his first touch and vision, he is able to control almost any ball that comes to him and then release it to one of the supporting players in attack. He finds space with ease and, together with his control of the ball, is a very effective spearhead in attack.

Compare that to Tevez, who does not have a good first touch. Who expends his energy running circles around the opponents and holding up defenders. Who seems to have lost some pace and sometimes tries to dribble too much. Sure, that is his natural game. Do we want to play that way? No. It is just not efficient.

The United style is best encapsulated in the third goal against Arsenal in the Champions League semifinals. Ruthless efficiency. A headed clearance resulted in a Ronaldo flick to Park. Park released Rooney who was breaking on the left. Rooney squared it to Ronaldo who lifted it over the oncoming goalkeeper.

Three passes, one goal.

United's attack has changed over the years, and the mentality is now one of efficiency. Not playing like Arsenal, who pass the ball to death and fail to conjure an end result, or even a shot on target.

I am not diminishing Tevez's contribution to the team. I am not raising stats to prove why Berbatov is better. I think, come the end of the season, everyone will not doubt that Tevez played a major part in United's successes.

Berbatov is preferred to Tevez because he is more efficient. Tevez will be more efficiently utilised if he is brought on when the opposition defence and midfield are tired. Tevez will be more efficient against opponents who play at a fast pace, and when we need his energy.

I am an admirer of Tevez and do hope that Tevez does not go, but due to his demands of starting every game, his leaving seems inevitable. I just hope he understands that Fergie is a master at the game and is doing what's best for the team.