By Ben Davies
Has Dimitar Berbatov been a flop at Manchester United? No, personally I don’t think so. Has Berbatov justified his £30 million price tag? Probably not. Berbatov hasn’t been outstanding nor has been a flop (which many have suggested). I would say Berbatov has done okay.
With United fans, there is a split in support of Berbatov, the pro-Berbatov camp and then the anti-Berbatov camp (seemingly Tevez fans). I’m definitely in the pro-Berbatov camp, he has a sublime first touch, has great awareness and can pick a pass (probably only behind Scholes in terms of passing ability at United). I’m going to put a case forward in support of Berbatov.
Many people in my opinion are too hung up over Berbatov’s price tag, using the £30million transfer fee as a stick to beat Berbatov with at every opportunity. The transfer fee perhaps is slightly too high but Daniel Levy (Spurs chairmen) would not sell for less than £30million so it’s what United had to pay. The amount of money paid isn’t Berbatov’s fault, so I fail to understand why people continually harp on about his price tag?
On Berbatov’s arrival a number of supporters had their nose put of place. Carlos Tevez was correctly idolised for his first season at United and many people felt the Berbatov signing was unnecessary, so from the start fans already had the hump over his signature.
Berbatov admittedly started slowly in his first season. I believe the main reason for this was due to Berbatov being frozen out at Spurs after stating his desire to join United. Therefore Berbatov was unable to have a proper pre-season thereby lacked match fitness and had to play catch up compared to other players as a result. Having played sport to a decent level, I understand the need for proper match fitness and match sharpness. If I’d missed a few games through injury, I certainly noticed a difference in my speed of thought and reaction time on my return.
The work rate of Berbatov was also questioned. Compared to Rooney & Tevez, most strikers (including Berbatov) are going to look lazy but are Rooney & Tevez the norm or are they a rule to the exception? Certainly Berbatov’s languid style doesn’t help his cause. However, ProZone stats help to dismiss the lack of work rate theory. At one point in the season Berbatov was ranked ninth (which is poor) in terms of distance covered. By the end of season he was ranked fourth, which is quite acceptable.Fergie admitted playing Berbatov out of his preferred position; Berbatov was asked to play a much deeper position than he previously had at Spurs. At Spurs, Berbatov operated far closer to the opposition goal so scored and created more. Which is another valid point to look at…
In his second season Berbatov has played through with a knee injury, which should be applauded in my opinion. Tevez’ good form over Christmas has added extra pressure on Berbatov. Many pundits and experts suggested we had signed the wrong player.
This season in Premier League, if you look at Berbatov’s scoring record in terms of goals scored against appearances his record looks poor – 8 goals in 21 appearances. However, if we look further Berbatov has had less game time than other strikers in the league. This is illustrated below:
- Rooney has 21 goals, a goal scored every 96 minutes.
- Torres has 12 goals, a goal every 100 minutes.
- Drogba has 15 goals, a goal every 103 minutes.
- Defoe has 15 goals, a goal every 119 minutes.
- Van Persie has 7 goals, a goal every 136 minutes.
- Tevez has 12 goals, a goal every 148 minutes.
- Bent has 14 goals, a goal every 152 minutes.
- Berbatov has 8 goals, a goal every 155 minutes.
- Adebayor has 8 goals, a goal every 162 minutes.
- Anelka has 8 goals, a goal every 209 minutes.
Looking at Berbatov’s record in this manner shows him in a better light. Berbaotv has a better ratio than Adebayor & Anelka and is marginally worse off than Tevez and Bent. He has also scored in each of his four last premiership starts.
The problem Berbatov finds himself in now is he is not an automatic starter in big games due to the preferred 4-3-3 formation we play. Berbatov is probably more suited to a 4-4-2 formation. Berbatov needs to continue and improve on his form, make himself un-droppable and force Fergie to play a 4-4-2 formation.
I hope fans start to show greater support for Berbatov. After all he is a United player…