Dimitar Berbatov’s move to Manchester United last year was met with great excitement from the fans. In North London he had established himself as one of the best strikers in the league and his graceful play drew comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His first season at United was unspectacular but he made an important contribution in the middle of the season to secure key wins for United in the league. Despite this, he has yet to live up to the £30.75million price tag. This season he has only scored 4 goals and with rumours escalating about United making a possible move for Edin Dzeko, could Sir Alex Ferguson be giving up on the Bulgarian.
At the beginning of the season, United switched back to a traditional 4-4-2 formation with Berbatov and Rooney forming the strike partnership. On paper, these two players should be able to make magic happen, both are technically superb with great vision, but it hasn’t quite worked out. While Rooney has started strongly, Berbatov’s performances have been lacklustre in the main. He is still criticised for his poor work-rate and has found himself on the bench for recent games as United have switched back to a 4-3-3 with Rooney as the lone striker. It has been theorised that Sir Alex Ferguson is reluctant to purchase a big-name striker for fear that it will dent Berbatov’s confidence further if the Bulgarian feels his manager has lost faith in him, but the growing speculation surrounding Dzeko suggests that Ferguson may be losing patience with Berbatov.
The Bulgarian is a lavishly talented footballer who has an incredible first touch, but United fans have only seen glimpses of his greatness and he has failed to produce good performances on a regular basis. This lack of consistency is a worry and Michael Owen’s hat-trick against Wolfsburg puts increasing pressure on the former Spurs man. If United switch back to a 4-4-2 in the next game, Ferguson would have a difficult choice as to whether he should start Owen ahead of the temperamental Berbatov.
I would not classify Berbatov as a flop at United, but he hasn’t had the impact that he should have had, the fact that he was on the bench for the Champions League Final says a lot about his importance to the side. Ferguson may be slowly losing patience with the player but he is likely to be given more chances; it is not easy to own up to a £30.75million mistake. But if by the end of this season, if Berbatov hasn’t become more productive, his future at United may not be so secure.