Since becoming Manchester United’s record signing in 2008, Dimitar Berbatov has come under heavy criticism. Scrutinised for his lack of goals and lazy play, it’s fair to say that the Bulgarian striker hasn’t yet lived up to his £30 million price tag.
However, we have seen some glimpses of class from Berbatov over the past two years. Most-notably when he notched up 11 assists in the 2008/2009 season.
The most impressive assist, coming in a 2-0 win over West Ham in October 2008. Berbatov, using a sublime piece of skill, flicked the ball past the defender with ease in the tightest of situations before setting up, then team mate, Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, Berbatov’s inability to hold down a first team place at Old Trafford has lead to question marks hanging over his future.
He came under a barrage of criticism for his lack of fire power in front of goal during United’s charge for the Premier League title at the end of last season. With Wayne Rooney injured, Ferguson was left to rely on Berbatov to provide the goals.
Disappointingly, he missed chance after chance, one being a simple volley against Chelsea which would have stole a point for United and changed the title picture.
The few goals that the Bulgarian has scored in a United shirt have come against lesser opposition, which does ask the question whether he can do it on the big stage.
But, it’s not all down to the below- par performances. It has been hard for Berbatov as for most of the season as he has played second fiddle to Rooney in United’s 4-5-1 system.
Despite not living up to expectations at Old Trafford, manager Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to stick rather than twist with the 29-year-old.
Ferguson insists Berbatov is the man for United: “It underlines the one great factor – that class he has. You cannot take that away from him, no matter the criticism. It doesn’t come from our camp. When we see that we know we have the right player.”
Recently, Berbatov put in a good performance against Celtic on United’s pre-season tour of the USA, where he netted one goal and played a pivotal part in the other two as the Red Devils ran out 3-1 winners.