For some players, it can often take a season to settle in to a new club, especially when you arrive with a £30 million price tag around your neck. Sometimes, other aspects can slow the adaption to new surroundings. For Dimitar Berbatov, in his 3rd season at Manchester United, it seems he has finally begun to show Manchester United fans exactly what type of player he is.
Berbatov has had more than his fair share of critics for the first two seasons in Manchester, with accusations on his fitness, work-rate, finishing and waistline all being thrown at him. Despite Berbatov’s fine period at White Hart Lane, he seemed a little within himself whilst starting his Manchester United’s career. 46 goals in 102 games for Tottenham was a phenomenal return for a player experiencing English football for the first time.
It would always be difficult for Berbatov to hit the ground running at Old Trafford. He had moved from a club where he was the fulcrum of the side, the architect. Everything went through Berbatov and it allowed him a freedom of expression that would be difficult to replicate at Manchester United. There he became one of a number of star players, one of the cogs, rather than the engine room. Even the most technical players find that change difficult.
His technical abilities are in no doubt, but it always takes time to adapt to a new system, a new team and a new surrounding. For some people, these things should not be an issue when you cost so much money but as with anything in life, change always takes time to sink in. For Berbatov, it took longer than it perhaps should have for some people.
The new season though has seen Berbatov start with a bang with 3 goals in Manchester United’s first four matches, two of which have been stunning efforts. The deftly crafted lob with defenders baring down on him in the Community Shield clash against Chelsea was a phenomenal finish under pressure. The goal against West Ham United was an astounding scissor kick from a delightful chip from Nani.
Perhaps it’s removing the weight of his international career over the summer that has seen him return refreshed and firing on all cylinders. Berbatov has suffered continual criticism of his international career, but he’s still managed to become the Bulgarian sides all time top scorer in a side that perhaps isn’t as strong as some of its predecessors. For some people, constant criticism whilst you are breaking records would seem beyond churlish but that’s football. Some people are never satisfied.
For Berbatov, this season is crucial for both himself and Sir Alex Ferguson. Whilst many dare not criticise Ferguson, Berbatov is a transfer that he cannot hide from the critics. The fee, the players prior success before joining United and the ever constant eye of press coverage make it impossible to sweep under the carpet. This was no Ralph Milne from Bristol City dark days transfer but Berbatov could console himself with the fact that Ferguson will protect his players with an iron resolve and continues to do so.