This weekend Dimitar Berbatov was once again criticised for his style of play; it frustrates me to hear comments that he is untalented, selfish and above all else lazy.
Berbatov is a class act; period.
For me these comments are the product of people who have never played the game nor appreciate what he brings to a match aside from scoring goals.
Berbatov is a striker; he is supposed to play in the final third of the pitch. You have to remember for two seasons now he’s played alongside the likes of Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney, players who are intent on tracking back, sitting deep and running all over the field. If Berbatov was to do the same thing it would be shambolic.
Berbatov is a striker in the true sense of the position and anyone who’s ever played there will know you’re the target man, a player who spends most of the game with their back constantly to the goal, on the shoulder of the last defender, fending off the likes of John Terry and co and helping to bring other players into the game; running around endlessly and pointlessly chasing after the ball is not part of your job.
This brings me to examples such as Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, true out-and-out strikers, who week in week out play the same role as Berbatov in similar fashion. Granted, Berbatov doesn’t score the number of goals these two do, but they do not play with arguably the best striker in the world – Rooney. Berbatov is testament to Rooney’s success and the former Everton man would be the first to admit that. He’s brought a new lease of life to Rooney since playing in support of the striker and Berbatov’s commitment, discipline and knowledge of the game has allowed Rooney to thrive.
For a team to work it needs balance, it needs aspects of youth, experience, flair and graft, creativity and predictability, speed and calm – to have 11 players of the same kind just wouldn’t work. Berbatov adds a new dimension to United, and while he may misplace the odd pass, make the odd rash decision or miss the odd chance, I defy anyone to name a player that doesn’t.
Sir Alex Ferguson rarely gets in wrong with his new signings and those that he has never last two seasons at the Theatre of Dreams. Fergie bought Berbatov in 2008 for a fee of £30.75 million and let us not forget this is the same man that since day one of his managerial career has vowed never to pay over the odds for a player and turned down signing Ronaldinho because the fee was too high.
Apparently he’s lazy and brings nothing to the game, I beg to differ and his creative flair and influence on the pitch is sorely missed when not in the infamous number nine shirt. His first season saw him pick up a Premier League winners medal, he made 10 assists in the Premier League and finished joint second (along with Fabregas, Gerrard and Lampard) behind league leader Robin van Persie with 11 – players that are noticed for their attacking prowess and key roles within huge clubs, I’d hasten to add. He also scored nine goals, yet despite these triumphs he attacked criticism for his style of play. For all the criticism Berbatov gets considering that last season four goals in 19 starts were enough to prompt the Tevez ‘Fergie sing him up’ chants, nine goals in 17 league starts is surely better statistics – after all Fergie chose Berbatov over Tevez.
The Bulgarian has scored nine goals already this season and having been out for much of the earlier part with injury, for me that’s a pretty convincing goal tally.
His seemingly effortless approach to football is his style, no one criticised Cristiano Ronaldo for his self minded, egotistical and at times lazy attitude; he was deemed the best player in the world.
I’m not for one second putting Berbatov in the same league as Ronaldo, I’m trying to illustrate instances where Berbatov is over criticised. He’s a great player with touch and skill to rival any player in the world; he’s scored some outstanding goals during his career with more to come, no doubt. For me it’s impossible to be callous and yet score brilliant goals without being insanely talented.
Questions have been raised over Berbatov’s future at United, but I feel for once he is beginning to show his worth. Ferguson has struggled to incorporate the Bulgarian within his preferred formations of 4-5-1 and 4-3-3 and I hope this doesn’t decide his fate.
Berbatov is doing fine, could he have done better? Obviously, but he is without doubt good enough for United. Perhaps if he ran all over the pitch like a bad dog after the ball, we’d be raving about what a great player he is, perhaps if you’d remove your made-in-Argentina specs you’d see him in a different light, see what an asset he is to United and see what a wonderful player he truly is.
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