‘A scorer of great goals, but not a great goal scorer’
A phrase heard in football about many players, but never has it more fittingly applied than to Man Utd’s Dimitar Berbatov.
On Halloween night against Blackburn the Bulgarian both tricked and treated United’s fans, showing why opinion on him is so divided at the club. Before the 55th minute Berbatov could have had a hat trick after being thwarted by a last ditch Gail Givet tackle, having a header tipped over by Paul Robinson when he was almost certain to score and having a long range shot tipped around the post.
Then on the 55th minute, a spectacular moment of magic went some way to erase the memory of his earlier spurned chances as he flicked up a scuffed Patrice Evra shot, turned and volleyed the ball into the bottom corner. Simply brilliant.
But how beneficial are performances like these to United? On another day the ball would not have fallen so kindly to Berbatov and we would have been lamenting another goal less Berbatov appearance.
The goal was only his 4th this season and 18th in 58 United appearances, and for £30m Man Utd fans must undoubtedly expect more. Upon Ronaldo’s departure to Madrid, Sir Alex Ferguson called on his players to the fill the gap left by the Portuguese star as well as chip in to make up for the goals that Ronaldo undoubtedly took with him. Some more than others have answered this call with Wayne Rooney revelling in his new more central role but it seems Berbatov hasn’t and it is now in his second season that fan’s patience will begin to wear thin as he does himself no favours in trying to justify his hefty price tag.
It has not always been like this as Berbatov had healthy goal returns in both of his full seasons with Tottenham but it appears his output has dropped drastically since signing for United notching just 14 in his first season. Some blamed the pressure of playing on a bigger stage, whilst Sir Alex Ferguson claimed not to have used Berbatov properly in his first season, so United fans must expect more from him in this his second and although his general play has improved his goal scoring has not. Instead United fans have been treated to a plethora of missed chances against Arsenal and Man City amongst others. The fact that United find a way to win these games means Berbatov’s performances get over looked, but what about when United do not take the 3 points?.
Berbatov’s creativity and ability is not in question, at his best he is a joy to watch. He is always on hand with assists for his team mates and of the 14 goals he scored last season, the ones against Bolton, Chelsea and Middlesbrough especially were crucial.
If you couple today’s goal with cheeky skills like the one against West Ham last season and deft touches and flicks and you have your ultimate highlight reel player, but playing for the biggest club in the world and for £30m, is that enough?