Manchester United: Alas Dimitar Berbatov, we bid you farewell

Dimitar Berbatov is not going to be a Manchester United player talked about by all generations in the same way Bobby Charlton and George Best have been. But for the section of United fans who have watched Dimitar Berbatov play for the club for the past four seasons will always remember themselves what a wonderfully gifted player the Bulgarian forward was with many of the things Berbatov could do with a football leaving the Old Trafford crowd simply astounded.

There has always been the argument that Dimitar Berbatov’s transfer to Manchester United has been a flop with the player having cost £30.5m and never really cementing a place in the team on a consistent basis. The Bulgarian was often lamented for his seemingly low work rate although a point to make is that this criticism of Berbatov’s work rate coincided with the departure of Argentine forward Carlos Tevez who would during his time at Old Trafford run himself into the ground for the cause.

It was a stark change from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester United for Berbatov with the former Bayer Leverkusen striker no longer being the focal point of the team, he was now sharing the stage with superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and whilst he never made reference to this you wonder how much of an impact this actually had on Berbatov in an almost identical way to how Juan Sebastian Veron struggled to adapt into a midfield which contained Roy Keane.

Berbatov was at times unfairly criticised and was essentially made a scapegoat when the team played poorly, for example at the end of the 2009-2010 season when Manchester United travelled to Ewood Park in May needing a win to keep their title bid alive Berbatov started the match with Wayne Rooney missing out through injury and when the Bulgarian had a poor game with the match ending 0-0 he was blamed.

There have been times where Berbatov has undoubtedly frustrated United fans in particular the 2009 FA Cup Semi Final against Everton where Berbatov’s nonchalant penalty kick left him open to ridicule when Tim Howard comfortably saved it, but these frustrations were always minimal and were far outweighed by the outrageous skill that Berbatov possessed.

Dimitar Berbatov is the most naturally gifted player in terms of technical ability and first touch I have ever seen pull on the Manchester United shirt, Berbatov’s ability to control a ball from impossible heights and angles was at times staggering and the players first touch often left defenders for dead and allowed him to run forward with the ball or bring teammates into play.

Another of Berbatov’s great attributes was his skill on the football with the most iconic moment of Berbatov’s United career came in the 2008-2009 season when the European Champions at the time faced West Ham United at Old Trafford and Berbatov kept the ball in play with a Cruyff like scoop turn right on the touchline leaving James Collins for dust before neatly squaring the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo who duly applied the finish.

Berbatov’s best season for the club came in the 2010-2011 campaign with the Bulgarian topping the clubs goal scoring charts with twenty one League goals including a hat trick against United’s fiercest rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford and a five goal haul against Blackburn Rovers. Despite this impressive season the writing was almost on the wall for Berbatov’s United future when he was left out of the full squad for the 2011 European Cup final against Barcelona at Wembley.

Many expected Berbatov to kick on from the previous year in the 2011-2012 campaign despite the European Cup final snub however this was not to be the case with Berbatov struggling to get into the team at all throughout the season and it was confirmed by Sir Alex Ferguson midway through the year that Berbatov would leave at end of the season.

One of his greatest personal qualities during his time with the club was his great humbleness with the Bulgarian always seeming thankful to be at a club of Manchester United’s magnitude and despite the difficult situation he found himself in never ever spoke out against the club to his utmost credit.

Just like Juan Veron during his time at United there has always been a feeling with Berbatov that this was the right player but at the wrong time, with United having just won the European Cup and boasting the finest forward line in all of Europe it was always going to be difficult to accommodate Berbatov into the system without significant change to the teams style of play and this never actually came to full fruition.

If United had signed Berbatov when they were first interested at the end of the 2001-2002 season he would have had much more of an impact with United with the club in a period of transition then with Cole, Yorke and Sheringham all nearing the exit doors of the club.

Regardless of all the negative publicity surrounding Berbatov’s move and the slightly unfortunate way in which he has ended his career with the club I will always remember the quality and class I saw from Berbatov every time he pulled on the colours of Manchester United and he really is a player who is far too good to sit on the bench week in week out and a move away from Old Trafford is what the Bulgarian deserves.

I wish him the best for his future be it with Fulham, Juventus or even Tottenham Hotspur and that he plays regularly and scores goals on a regular basis and although he won’t go down as one of the clubs greats there will always be a section of us United fans who will always recollect just what quality we saw from the iconic and relaxed Bulgarian.

 

Written by Chris Winterburn

Follow me on Twitter @Chriswin4

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