“The reincarnation of Cantona?” – Thoughts on Berbatov’s departure
Football is enamored with the past. Football writers, fans, and even entire clubs cannot seem to get enough of what has been. Manchester United are proprietors of one of the more interesting histories in British football. As such, United supporters have a rather extensive well from which to draw when they are feeling nostalgic. When Cristiano Ronaldo broke through at the club, he was declared the ‘new George Best.’ As Wayne Rooney inches closer and closer to a role at the center of the park, he turns more and more into Sir Bobby Charlton. Were it not for those flash hair implants, he might already be there. Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in English football, has long existed as the ‘new Sir Matt Busby.’
Fans use the past to give the present context. The past helps us place expectations on players, and it guides our belief in a player and, ultimately, in our club. As the present makes good on the past- as Ronaldo does become one of the world’s best, as Rooney inches closer to Sir Bobby’s club goal record, and as Sir Alex continues his revivals of the club a là Busby after Munich- we feel emboldened to continue linking today with yesteryear.
Yet the past offers pitfalls, as Dimitar Berbatov illustrated this summer. After toying with Italian hearts on the last day of the transfer window, Berbatov has joined Fulham FC, of London, in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Dimitar Berbatov Departure Special- ‘He Was Manchester United’s Godfather’
After travelling around Europe for the week on a private jet whilst deciding where to venture next, Berbanigma finally decided to sign for Fulham yesterday. We give our reaction to the transfer:
Dimitar Berbatov – the right player at the wrong club. Prodigiously talented, languid and with a playing style that made you feel like you were watching the only player on the pitch. Everyone else was just on the periphery for Berba. It is a shame to see him leave but it is the right decision for all parties as that much talent is wasted on the bench.
We will remember the highs (Liverpool hat trick) and also the lows (penalty vs Everton) but above all we will remember that the Bulgarian simply got what it meant to be a United player. Whether left out or on the bench there was no complaints whereas lesser players would be on the phone to their agent before the day was finished.
I wish him well at Fulham where he will quickly become the main man and the fulcrum of the team. Whatever happens, it won’t be dull and who knows, in a few years that shocking statue of Michael Jackson will be replaced with one of a certain Bulgarian casually smoking a cigarette seemingly in a world of his own. Thanks for the memories.
The Secret Footballer sums it up better than I ever could… Dimitar Berbatov…
The Godfather. That is how I will remember Dimitar Berbatov. Not because he used the film to learn English, but because every time I saw him on the pitch, I couldn’t help but think “That might as well be Michael Corleone”. The way his hair was slicked back, the slickness he managed to portray on and off the pitch but also the cigarettes and the wine. Especially those.
When watching Berbatov play, you couldn’t help but notice that the man is a connoisseur. Not of wines (he probably is) but of football. He didn’t run around like Park or track back like Wayne Rooney. With Berbatov, it all happenened once the ball was in his feet. Whether it was a ball magically plucked out of the air or a flick over a player’s tackle, once Berbatov received the ball, he owned it.
He will always be remembered for that hat trick against Liverpool at Old Trafford with a performance that will forever engrave his name in Manchester United folklore. However, Dimitar should first and foremost be thanked not for a majestic display over bitter rivals, but for a 19th title which allowed Ferguson to knock Liverpool off their f***ing perch.
Some will always complain about his inconsistent displays in previous seasons or the fact that he was lazy, but really, who cares? He was Manchester United’s Godfather. He was Dimitar Berbatov.
Спасибо, до свидания и прошайте Димитар.
What can you say about Berbatov that has not been said already? He’s an artist, a magician, a maestro which treats the ball as his orchestra. Players become mere peasants as he dances across them with a touch so delicate it would’ve scored three stars on the Michelin Guide.
The hattrick against Liverpool and the five goals against Blackburn will forever be remembered between United fans. So will his rejection to Manchester City on deadline day in the summer of ’08. A man who never complained and was dedicated and motivated to do a job for the club hhe described as his dream when he joined. However, he just didn’t fit in. United wanted pace, attacking on the counters. To all his qualities, Berbatov lacked the essential speed to cope. A genius who just did not fit into our club anymore.
I wish him all the best and I hope he gets an absolute awesome reaction from the Old Trafford faithful should he return in a cupgame this season. Or perhaps next season if he’s still at Fulham when they visit Old Trafford.
Thank you for the memories, Dimitar Berbatov!
*Can They Score contributor, Musa Okwonga, wrote a superb poem on Berbatov’s depature, check it out on his site here.
Scouting Euro 2012: Man United’s Forward Transfer Targets
Conventional wisdom dictates that Manchester United need to sign a striker in the summer transfer window.
Following the flurry of activity in and out of Old Trafford already this summer, Sir Alex Ferguson looks like he will be one short of his favoured four forward options going into next season.
Following the departure of Michael Owen already, expected exit of Dimitar Berbatov soon enough and a nasty cruciate-ligament injury to William Keane which will rule him out for nine months (when he was destined to be involved next season), the Red Devils are left with only three recognised first team strikers. That is following the departure of other experimental strikers in Mame Birame Diouf in January, rumoured loan move of Macheda next season and necessary re-loan of Portuguese flop, Bebe.
Of course, Sir Alex may well decide to use Ashley Young as an auxiliary striker as he has been used for England in the Euros so far or he may deem another unnecessary in light of Kagawa’s arrival and a possible transition to 4-2-3-1.
However, on show in Ukraine and Poland is a plethora of goal-scoring potential who Martin Ferguson, our chief European scout, is sure to be watching.
(Poland and Borussia Dortmund)
With a nation’s hopes resting upon his shoulders, Lewandowski opened the scoring in this year’s European Championship with a fine header against Greece in the competition’s first match. A strong and athletic threat with a 6ft 3″ frame, he has become a key figure for both club and country.
After forming a telepathic relationship with United’s new signing, Shinji Kagawa, last season, Lewandowski finished the season with 22 goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances, after firing in more shots per games than any other player. However, the 23 year-old’s main weaknesses are his hold-up play and passing in general; in his Champions League appearances, for example, he averaged a pass completion rate of just 56%. Nonetheless, he is the second youngest player on the list and should improve on both of these weaknesses over the next few years.
The Poland coach, Smuda, did suggest Manchester United were a possible destination this summer but this was categorically ruled out by Borussia Dortmund who insist he is not for sale, even though a bid over £25million could prove very tempting.
(Holland and FC Schalke)
Seemingly linked to United every summer for the past five or six season, by lazy journalists in search of hits, the Dutchman is finally showing the form, at 28 years of age, that the prodigious goal scoring record in his younger years predicted. Scoring 39% of Schalke’s goals in the Bundesliga this season with a staggering 29 goals in 32 Bundesliga matches, he really is at his peak.
Averaging a goal every 96 minutes, in comparison to Podolski at every 140 minutes and M B Diouf at every 129 minutes, it is amazing that he has been ousted from the national team’s starting XI by a seemingly unfit and out-of-form Afellay. Made all the more bizarre considering that he scored 8 goals in just 5 Europa League matches this season and set up the same amount of goals as Shinji Kagawa with 8.
Despite all this, Huntelaar would be available for a fee just shy of that paid for Kagawa as his contract only has one year left to run and the Dutchman is keen to move on to a bigger club. If Sir Alex is interested, £14 million on a proven goal scorer may be a worthwhile investment.
Berbatov Was Cantona-lite, Not Cantona-esque
This summer will see the departure from Old Trafford of an iconic player who has broken several records on his way to becoming one of the most recognisable names in world football.
Yet this parting will gain only a fraction of the column-space and media attention that was afforded to Carlos Tevez, Eden Hazard, Wesley Sneijder and Fernando Torres, to name but four.
Cast your mind back four years; Man United had conquered Europe, complementing their re-found dominance of the domestic game. Cristiano Ronaldo had blossomed into one of the game’s greats, Wayne Rooney was demonstrating the perfect blend of quality and determination required to join him, and they were complemented by a cast of stars which included Hargreaves, Tevez, Ferdinand and Vidic, all helping establish United as the number one team on the planet.
Yet there was still something missing; that player who was unpredictably brilliant, who could win matches with unfathomable pieces of skill and mastery. Perhaps there was a desire to finally fill the void left by Eric Cantona from a decade previously. It was a maverick, a nonconformist who deviated from the blandness and uniformity of the modern day footballer, who Sir Alex longed for. United thought they had found that player at the eleventh hour, minutes before that summer’s transfer window slammed shut.
From an outsider’s point of view, it may have seemed somewhat peculiar that Ferguson plummeted to splash over £30 million on Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov. The wiley old Scot had arguably the most distinguished counter-attacking team in living memory at his disposal, yet he opted for the languid and often apathetic-looking Bulgarian.
Happy 31st Birthday Dimitar Berbatov! A Timeline of his United Career So Far
September 1st 2008 – Berbatov signs for Manchester United
Tottenham reach an agreement for the sale of Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United, on a 4 year contract, in a deal reportedly worth £30.75m
Upon his arrival, Dimitar had this to say:
“Joining United is a dream come true. I look forward to playing my part in helping this club win more honours.”
Dimitar Berbatov – Should He Stay or Should He Go?
While Manchester United fans around the globe grew elated at the impact Javier ”Chicharito” Hernandez had on the club in his debut season, another man’s contributions were forgotten just as rapidly.
Ferguson On The Money In Striker Department
Sir Alex Ferguson is a genius at is getting the right blend of strikers for his Manchester United side.