Category Archives: berbatov

Patronized Berba Deserves More Than He’s Getting

https://i2.wp.com/i.eurosport.com/2011/05/30/727077-8642951-317-238.jpgIn the midst of United’s attacking wildfire, one forward was removed from the rest. As in most things, Berbatov was on the outskirts.

He has always been different from the others. Quiet, withdrawn, Berbatov refuses to be sucked into the loud, effervescent public life of Rio Ferdinand, nor the wild, sex driven antics of Wayne Rooney. When United players are asked to describe their Bulgarian teammate, the answers tend to be vague or mumbled. To an outsider, it would seem as though nobody really knows Dimitar Berbatov. He is said to sit far from the rest on away trips, and rarely join in on raucous games of cards in the wee hours during those infamous tours abroad.

Lackadaisical, languid, lazy. Berbatov’s playing style has generated cliches of its own. Wishing to criticize, no wide range of vocabulary is needed, merely a group of synonyms that any would be TV pundit learns in their crash course to being unoriginal.

Even when he achieves, Berbatov’s accomplishments are derided. A golden boot made impure by the distribution of goals – heavily on one or two games against low level opposition – and a second title win in three years, more the work of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

Now the criticism seems to have worked. The Bulgarian Berbatov is further away from first team football than ever, on the outskirts both personally and professionally.

Interest from PSG and Juventus though was rejected, despite his apparent distance from the starting eleven, Berbatov holds some value in Ferguson’s eye. What value though? Has he just been shelved away, kept only to save face, to show that thirty million pounds wasn’t wasted? Berbatov is fast turning into another object, kept only for the sake of stubbornness, cursed by no fault of his own, but by the failure of those around him to understand his footballing importance and by a price tag which many see as at its most useful when tied around the striker’s metaphorical neck.

The 2011 Champions League final looked to be his nadir.  Left out of the squad entirely, Berbatov was forced to take a watchers on role while the constantly injured Michael Owen claimed a place on the bench. That season Owen had netted twice in the league. Berbatov was top scorer with twenty.


“There was no more disappointed man that night (Champions League final) than Dimitar, there’s no question about that.” said Ferguson. “I made a decision that I didn’t want to make, putting Michael Owen on the bench, but I felt it was a positive one.”
Since then, the World has seen little of Dimitar Berbatov. He scored in a pre season friendly against the Major League Soccer All Stars, and is often caught respectfully watching games from his position on the sidelines. According to Ferguson, his performances in training post Champions League rejection have been inspiring – one wonders then how much stall is set by training these days…
That Berbatov hasn’t moved is a crime only the humblest could commit. Berbatov knows that from Manchester United the only step is down, but he doesn’t regard himself highly enough to see first team football as a god given right. It is Berbatov’s personal underestimation, his modesty and his loyalty that are pulling him down.
In Manchester, a city marked constantly by waste of talent, one player on the red side festers quietly. He is driven though not by money (he could have got more at PSG) but by his own belief in English club football’s most vital mantra. No player is bigger than their club. Berbatov appreciates that all to well. Instead of quietly retreating, accepting the situation and fighting to regain lost acclaim, maybe Berba should have thrown a fit after that Champions League final refusal. Maybe he should have cried, complained and left.

At some point he should have given up. Tired of being patronized by a man who is fast losing interest in a one time chief transfer target, he should have asked to leave.

The World is losing a prodigious talent, but Berbatov would never admit it. He’s too humble.

Samir Nasri Adds Fuel To Derby Fire

When Manchester City were taken over by Sheikh Mansour on September 1st 2008, we could feel the tectonic plates of football shifting. With City’s takeover, a new era of football in England began, one which would clearly go some way to changing the guard in the upper echelons of the English game. 

All of a sudden there was a new player in the Champions League qualification race, a team determined to dethrone the legendary big four, determined to match and then surpass their rivals achievements. From day one of the new ownership, Manchester City have been actively trying to forge themselves a place alongside English football’s elites, the signing of Robinho was just the start of an almighty revolution. 
It took City more than a year to finally begin competing for the Champions League place that they had so craved, 2008/09 proved to be a year of transition more than anything else, early talk of silverware was soon washed away by a wave of mediocrity. 
In 09/10 the Citizens continued to fight; under the stewardship of first Mark Hughes and then Roberto Mancini their rivalry with neighbors Manchester United began to intensify. First to ignite what was a bristling rivalry, was an epic 4-3 loss at Old Trafford which sowed the seeds of Mark Hughes departure, prompted fits of delirium from United supporters everywhere, and had every known reporter sitting in front of a TV with their stopwatches going…
Later that same season, with Mancini at the helm, City clashed with United again, this time in the Carling Cup. Rarely had a League Cup semi final been as hotly anticipated as this one, both United and City dearly wanted to win, and a two-one victory at Eastlands for City had set the tie up for a brilliant second leg at Old Trafford. Again, a late Red Devils show helped Fergie’s team to prevail, as a Rooney header early in stoppage time sent United to Wembley, and City to another trophy less season. A year later though, City would finally have their revenge.
 It is difficult to put into words the pain felt by supporters of Manchester City throughout their long, long barren spell. Watching their rivals, year after year, parade trophy after trophy through the streets of Manchester must have been a chastening experience, one that produced much frustration; frustration that was soon to be released. Victory in the FA Cup semi final of 2011 was the first major achievement of the “new City.” The noisy neighbors had finally broken down the Old Trafford door, and let the dog out to urinate on the lawn to boot. A win over Stoke a month later in the final confirmed the ending of an era, as City at last claimed that sought after trophy. Additionally, qualification to the Champions League just days earlier meant that the men from Manchester could finally count themselves as part of Europe’s elite. 
However, for all their battles in the league, cup competitions and in the stands, we have never really had a true Manchester transfer tug of war. Yes, Dimitar Berbatov was briefly in line to figurehead the City revolution, but the lateness of City’s bid insured that there was never any destination other than Old Trafford that was feasible for the lanky Bulgarian. Carlos Tevez as well, left United to join City, but he was never directly sold, the Argentinean joined the Sky Blues as part of a bizarre contractual permutation far too complicated for any honest football fan to claim they understood fully. Even Yaya Toure, who came out after signing for the Sky Blues to denounce United, was never as clear and important a target to United as he was to City. 
In Samir Nasri though, we have finally found our transfer battle, one that could become so fierce as to warrant mention in the history books mapping this ever growing rivalry. Nasri is the type of player needed by Manchester United, a versatile creator capable of playing on either wing or through the middle, just the man to provide the Devils with the innovative spark they so lacked last season. For City, the signing of Nasri would represent a statement of intent, a coup large enough to give them a realistic chance of Premier League success, and to insure progress to the latter stages of the Champions League. 
What transpires in the next couple of weeks between United and City, will give us a realistic idea of where City lie in Manchester’s monumental power struggle, for the first time a player will have the opportunity to publicly turn down United for City, an opportunity to let the entire footballing World know that the Sky Blues mean business. 
If United and City needed anymore motivation to beat each other, then this latest battle will provide it. Those two have already locked horns on the playing field, and now their perpetual struggle has been translated to the transfer game as well.


This article was originally published by The Chairman on Football Speak
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