Why Manchester United Should Keep Dimitar Berbatov

Photo by Gordon Marino

During the transfer window, there are many players who become linked with Manchester United. And there are also some United players who are rumored to leave, which seems realistic considering the number of players who’ll possibly come in. One well known footballer rumored to be on his way out is Dimitar Berbatov.

Despite declaring he was staying, that hasn’t stopped the reports about his departure. Such reports include speculation that he would be involved in a player swap with Luka Modric. Clubs like Paris St. Germain have offered around 12 million for the 2010/2011 Premier League Golden Boot winner. Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Roma and Bayern Munich are other clubs also reportedly interested in Berbatov.

Even though there is a lot of outside interest in Berbatov, I hope he stays.  He’s been a loyal player capable of majestic feats of glory. Many have been against him over the years due to his lackadaisical style and, as a result, aggressive forwards like Rooney and Chicharito have been chosen over him in the big matches.

I was shocked that he didn’t even make the bench for the final against Barcelona. I could understand it if he took offense at that exclusion but Berbatov is different from past players like Carlos Tevez. Ironically, Tevez was angry at his lack of playing time due to the Bulgarian which led to his forced sale to City. Berbatov, however, has chosen the success of the team over individual playing time and that is a main reason why I feel United should hold on to him. He understands his role and his contributions in terms of goals, assists and possession are priceless.

However, recent reports from Goal.com have revealed that the Bulgarian and his agent have received no word from United about a contract extension or a new deal even though he has only one year remaining in his current deal. Berbatov’s agent, Emil Dantchev, admitted, “There is no news because we have not heard anything from anyone.” “After we speak to Manchester United, we will know more but now he is very happy to be a Manchester United player.”

“Many clubs would be interested in Dimitar but he wants to stay in Manchester and win more trophies. He has a contract and he is not paying attention to the British media.”

I for one hope United retain the Bulgarian for at least this upcoming season. The much-maligned striker has received a mixed reception from United fans as he has struggled to be effective in United’s fast pace offense and has disappeared in certain matches. Berbatov hasn’t been as prolific in front of the net as many hoped considering his large transfer fee for over 30 million Euros, which I feel is a major catalyst for the negativity he receives.

However, Berbatov’s technical skill in terms of dribbling, first touch, and possession are all indispensable features. One of the greatest aspects of Berbatov’s play is retaining the ball alone against defenders, giving enough time for support to come in and create chances for others. His intelligence and composure on the field calms tension and is so crucial in important matches. Besides his goal-scoring abilities, Berbatov’s way of breaking down defenses has lead to him racking up numerous assists. Berbatov also has repeatedly shown he’s capable of producing the spectacular and his three hat tricks this past year indicates he can single-handedly win matches.

At the end of the day, Dimitar Berbatov has been one of the most polarizing figures in the history of Manchester United. What’s impressive to me is that he’s been able to perform and always show a positive attitude despite often being criticized.  His work rate has always been questioned because he never ran as much as Wayne Rooney, Javier  Hernandez, or Carlos Tevez. However, Berbatov’s determination to contribute to the team has lead to him being part of numerous team honors including two EPL titles. Despite winning the Premier League Golden Boot last year, his detractors will focus more on his quiet second half. Yet, one of the testaments to United is that their deep roster allows them to pick and choose who to play at certain points during the season which is a true sign of a great team. If it wasn’t for Berbatov’s magnificent play in the first half of the season, United would have never had a chance of winning their 19th title.

Some will want nothing more than to be finally rid of the lackadaisical Bulgarian who doesn’t hustle enough. I tend to differ with them and hope that one of the most technically skilled, elegant strikers in the world will stay at Old Trafford.

55 thoughts on “Why Manchester United Should Keep Dimitar Berbatov”

  1. The fact that he has only one year left on his contract means the Fergie is looking at whether Berbatov is going to be part of the future plans at United. I think it is doubtful that he has a future beyond this season. That’s why I think he will be sold now rather than risk losing him on a free when his contract expires.

    Personally I agree that Berbatov is a very good forward with skills very few forwards possess. However, I think his time may be up at United. The form of Chicarito has dealt a blow to Berbatov staying. The club also has Wellbeck as a decent backup.

    1. I absolutely agree that Welbeck can take off this year. But as much as we want every youngster to come in like Chicharito, that’s not a guranteed thing with Welbeck. He can still play well but he’s still inexperienced and its a lot to ask him to all of a sudden be the third striker. Having Berbatov at least for this year would allow United to ease Welbeck in. Having Welbeck and Owen as our backup strikers is decent at best but with Berba, we still have three principal strikers to wield. Plus Berba’s game is more than just goal-scoring so he would have more impact on the field than Welbeck at least for this year.

        1. Haha well he is a good young striker. Unfortunately, we just may have to many options ahead of him. God forbid Rovers keep him though.

  2. His quiet second half to the season?!!! Guy, it’s hard to be effective when you’re not getting playing time, especially when being dropped constantly, against all logic and reason, for an out of form Wayne Rooney who benefits from the gilt-edged double standard handed to him by his blindly loyal manager.

    Remember how Berbatov scored five goals in a game – then got dropped in favour of Rooney, even though the Englishman was in the midst of his scoring slump?

    Remember when Fergie stated that Berbatov was being dropped on the kind of form being shown by Chicharito that couldn’t be ignored? Where was that same argument earlier in the season when Rooney was playing like crap and couldn’t hit the side of Old Trafford from ten yards out? Berbatov and Hernandez got off to a very promising partnership at the beginning of the season and should have been given every chance to bed down as a tandem. Instead Rooney, against form, kept getting played game after game, month after month. So much for the form guide.

    Your argument rings the same as the one that often gets trundled out about Berbatov not scoring in European games. Hard to score when your manager constantly drops you in favour of 4-5-1 formations in which Rooney is the preferred option as the solo striker – even though he”s sucked historically in the role.

    The biggest joke of all was the season finale, in which Fergie committed football suicide by dropping Rooney back into his preferred role as a deep-lying second striker – even though playing two strikers meant leaving the midfield at the mercy of Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets. Hard to utilise that extra attacking edge when you have half as much possession as the opposition!

    1. I can clearly tell that you have a strong dislike for Rooney. First of all, you’re never going to have Rooney sit on the bench all the time because of everything he does and stands for . Period.
      Secondly, Rooney’s form greatly improved in the second half of the season and the Rooney/Hernandez combo was pretty good if you didn’t notice.
      Third-United’s main style is fast-paced football where our midfield holds the ball and tries to feed it to our strikers. No one in the world was going to stop the Barca midfield even if we had Berba in there.
      Fourth-As much as I love Berba, Rooney and Hernandez were playing better than him the last months. He was quiet but the beauty of United is that the team is so deep that different players cans tep up throughout the season. When Rooney was down, Berba saved United and vice versa in the second half of the season.

  3. I totally agree with you…He is a great player, diferent in many ways of others strikers…he is not selfish (how many times we saw him giving passes and trying to help Rooney when he had a goal drought at the first part of the past season) I think his low profile plays against him.

    Sincerely, I hope he stays at Old Trafford, he deserve another chance.

  4. Give him two years extension. Keep him for this comming season as a backup for our strike force. If it does not work out sell him next year with two years contract remaining. Will get good price for him next year.

    1. His price next year will not be any higher next year no matter how long of an extension he signs simply because of his age. If you want the most money for him he needs to be sold now and SAF knows this.

  5. He’s done, sell him ASAP. Good player but doesn’t fit the way Utd plays. For 12m quid we should give PSG Berba and try and trick them into taking Obertan as well.

    1. Done? Please, he’s not done. He’s worth more than 12m anyways. Doesn’t have to fit the United way. He’s not a regular starter but he doesn’t have to be as he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the EPL.

      1. I mean done in the sense that he not going to be a starter for us. Id be the first person to put money on him to finish top goal scorer in another league if he was a starter.

        1. And that’s why he should be held on. U don’t get rid of something if it’s still working for you in a great way. Keep him at least for this year and evaluate the situation from there.

          1. And risk losing him for free in 6 months time? He could sign a pre contact with another team on Jan 1st and wed get nothing.

          2. If its up to him, he may not want to leave anyways. I think Berba values being on a winning team more than anything else. I have a gut feeling he wouldn’t leave in the middle of the season and we would still have him for at least this season. That’s pretty valuable to me.

  6. He is the only footballer on a team full of kick-and-run players…
    Thank God Barcelona humiliated the kick-and-run style and showed the world how football should be played!

    1. please enlighten us as to which wonderful football team you support? You sound like your typical City fan

      “Not arrogant, just better”

  7. CL final against Barsa was lost before the kick off. When ever a team changes the way from their normal play, you are asking for trouble. Our game is pass-move at high tempo. We did not do that and Fergie knows it. Berba would not have made any difference on or off the bench. Berba should stop blaming Fergie or himself. Our game is short and long mixture of passes, and attack attack attack at pace. Apart from maybe 15-20 minutes in the match of 90 minutes, we just sat back and admired Barsa’s short tip-tap passes. Once, we were hypnotised with their passes; bang-score.

    1. FA Cup semi-final against City was the straw that broke SAF’s back. When Berba couldn’t score in the first half with two great oppurtunities that doomed him into the dressing room. As for Barca, it’s a 6 man midfield playing against a back four, as Vidic said, they play without a traditional striker and that allows the midfield to back off. Berba would have only made a difference if Man Utd. played a stronger defensive midfield.

      Realistically, you can’t sell him unless you another striker similar to Berba’s play and Man Utd. doesn’t. Then again, if it gets you Sneijder or in other words, SAF is able to buy scoring midfielders then sell.

      1. First of all, I don’t buy the notion that Berba is gonna be used as trade bait. Why in the world would he want to go back to Tottenham for Modric where the fans hate him? Sneijder probably isn’t going anywhere as he’s just teasing Inter to do anything to hold onto him. He could leave but his salary demands astronomical.
        No amount of defense was going to stop Barca. The only way to play with them is to try and keep the ball as much as possible which is difficult when you’re playing a group of guys who after playing with each other so much, have the best chemistry in the world. I will agree his misses in the FA Cup final were bad but he isn’t leaving because of 1 game.

  8. i’m glad this was brought up. berba is class and pulled through when we needed him most when rooney was unstable after the world cup. let’s not forget, if it weren’t for those performances that put him joint leading scorer for the season, then i doubt that united would have won the league and gotten those positive results w/out him either. any united supporter or football supporter for that matter who don’t, or cannot recognize his brilliance simply don’t understand the game. i would have much rather seen an extension for berba and letting michael owen go instead.

    1. You can be brilliant with fancy touches and great control until the cows come home but he is payed to put the ball in the back of the net and over the course of the last 3 seasons he hasn’t done that on a consistent basis, yes he scored 20+ this season but lets not forget 11 of those goals came in three games. when it matters most he seems to bottle it as shown in the cup semi final against City and thats something nobody can ignore. Yes he won us games with his goals but at his age and the fact he wont be a starter next season now is the time to sell him. Good player just doesn’t fit the Utd style of play in my opinion.

      1. bottles it when it matters most?! how about the first half of the season when rooney had bottled it and we had nobody else to turn to except berba? how about the hat trick v. liverpool? that doesn’t count for anything when it matters? yes, the fa cup semi misses were bad, but he’s a player who is known for his ups and downs based on his confidence. when he’s benched after leading the league in scoring then all of a sudden called on in an fa cup semi at wembley v. city, it’s pretty tough to expect anyone to magically rediscover their scoring touch. look at how patient saf was w/rooney.

        saf knows berba’s worth and class and rates him as a player and i think berba like most united players understands his role to the team. i was surprised to see however, that he extended owen’s contract ahead of berba’s. no it makes me wonder if they’ll sell him to avoid letting him leave on a free next year, but that all depends on whether or not they extend his contract. it’ll be interesting to see, but i can’t see them keeping 5 strikers w/welbeck returning and now owen extended.

        1. Couldn’t agree with u more. Honestly, I think we just kept Owen because he’s worth very little and anything positive is a gain. Welbeck is young and inexperienced but greatly talented so he just be eased in rather than all of the sudden be the third striker. United are always known for fielding deep squads and having Berba is too important to pass up for the team’s sake for all the reasons previously explained.

        2. I think SAf has been more than patient with Berbatov, one good goal scoring season in three years is all he got in return for 30m investment.

          Like i said hes scored goals and won us games this season but he just too inconsistent and not being a starter doesn’t help much either. As for the TWO clear misses against city in less than 60 seconds I don’t care how bad your playing or how low your confidence is or if you just came on from the bench you need to put one of those chances in the back of the net from less than 10 yards out , that’s why hes paid +75k a week no excuses.

          The fact that there has been no offer of an extension says everything, if a decent offer comes SAF will most likely take it. Owen is on a basic salary and PYP deal so keeping him around another year wont hurt. Wellbeck will get games but I think Macheda will be shipped out.

          1. His goal scoring has increased each year from 9 to 12 to 21. He struggles in Europe but everything else he does makes him valuable. I don’t care what he gets paid, if he doesn’t play for awhile and all of a sudden is used in a FA semi, it will be hard for him to be at his best. Our patience with him has paid off with some spectacular performances. Is he as consistent as we want him to be? No, but he has left his mark every year with the team considering many fans look at him with a piss poor attitude because he doesn’t hustle like Tevez. Give me loyalty and good play over anything else any day of the week.

          2. His goal scoring has improved each season, his assists have been numerous and he’s important for more than just stats. His misses against City were bad but he hadn’t played and all the money in the world isn’t going to change that. If u don’t play for a long time, you’re going to struggle when called upon.

          3. I’ll take goals over everything else. Score goals and fans will overlook the other small stuff. Either way were pretty much saying the same thing here except you would rather he stayed and i think if the right offer comes he we should sell, and that’s not because hes a bad player.

          4. i think we should extend his contract and keep him, put welbeck back out on loan for one more season and then next season offload owen and bring welbeck back. this way we’d be fine in the striker dept. for a good while and can focus on beefing up the mf w/some more quality.

  9. Only Berbatov can save Man u.Put him on the market and see how man city,arsenal,inter and ac milan will come for him.Football is not rugby but brains and genius.Now alex ferguson seems to be noticing and trying to buy Young,Modric,Sneidjer.what did chicarito do in the final.Run,run,run?I would personally put berbatov in midfield to take out Giggs.Berbatov is a terrific team player and helps out his mates too.Sir Alex should know how to handle a genius.He did it for Cantona.At least 40 % of the loyalty he showed Rooney should be enough for Berbatov.

    1. Berbatov in midfield you’re having a laugh right?

      There is more to playing midfield than just getting the ball and trying to open up a defense with a killer pass. Tracking back to help defenders, closing down opposing teams players, tackling and getting forward to support your strikers. Not exactly Berbatov’s strong points. With him in midfield against that Barcelona team we we would have lost 10-1.

      1. Tell me..what did Giggs do on the day apart from showing his age?How many people held the ball on that day which Berbatov does so easily.If you dont like him we need him at Villa.have a laugh mate

        1. I understand what you’re saying Ben but before the final, I wouldn’t change his role from striker to midfield. That’s just too experimental and Giggs had been playing well all season and deserved his start.

          1. okay,owen ahead of berbatov was a test tube experiment.How many people held up the ball in midfield against Barca.Who held the ball up when playing on left like Giggs to release for Park to score against Blackpool to clinch title?Berbatov!Man u showed their worst on that day and the only teamwork was what resulted in the goal they scored with a hint of offside.Berbatov even on a bad day sprays passes to guide the team.He is a king.its a pity Fergie finds hard to connect him with other royals.

        2. Giggs did absolutely NOTHING that day. Any fan could have told you playing Giggs from the start on a pitch the size of Wembley against a team like Barcelona was suicidal, he simply doesn’t have the legs for it anymore. If Fletcher had of been fit Giggs wouldn’t have started the game but we didn’t have any other choice.

          1. Yea but Fletcher wasn’t fit. There was no way we were going to throw him out when he had hardly played. Can you imagine the fall out if Giggs didn’t play in the final? It would have ruined his confidence and would have given all these tabloid loving fools reason to say he didn’t play because of off-field issues. Giggs was important to our this year and was chosen for his experience and form for this season. If only he were ten years younger…

          2. If he was 10 years younger, he would have played on the wing. Whine all you want about the CL Final, we don’t have a midfield able to play against Barca. Key word ‘against’ and not play like Barca. RM showed how to play against them in the Copa del Rey final, and if you don’t have a defensive midfield that can frustrate Barca, chances are you won’t win. You have to also remember that all 11 Barca players played their best game while many Man Utd players were average to below average, players like Carrick, Park, Giggs, Valencia and Chicharito picked that day to have their worst game of the season.

          3. I agree, Giggs was fairly anonymous, but didn’t he get the assist for Wayne Rooney’s goal?

            Playing Berbatov in midfield would have been hilarious/suicidal.

          4. Well I’m real glad Real Madrid actually won one game this year against Barca after only playing them 5 times. The first time they played, RM tried to play open and only lost 5-0. They then went play the ugly football and besides scraping one goal in the Copa Del Rey Final, they practically lost every other game which was much more meaningful. The only way to play them is through retainong possesion like them which is impossible because they have the best chemistry. Or you can play ugly and have Adebayor foul every Barca player on the field. The choice is yours…

  10. It’s embarassing to me the way that United have treated Berba. The guy is our leading scorer and doesn’t make the bench for the CL final — enough said. I’ve extolled his virtues on my blog from the very beginning — heck, blog # 1 was all about Dimi — and I sincerely hope we keep him around. 20+ goals is hard to replace, and his footballing magic would be even more difficult to replace. With Dimitar we are a team capable of magic — without him, still a winning team for sure, but one that is just a little bit less fun for this diehard fan to watch.

    1. “It’s embarassing to me the way that United have treated Berba. The guy is our leading scorer and doesn’t make the bench for the CL final — enough said.”

      Didn’t get it then. Still don’t. Unforgivable, I think.

      1. As much as I love Berba, there was no way he was starting that final with the way Rooney and Hernandez was playing. Not having him even on the bench was unforgivable but there was no way one guy could come in and change that game.

      2. i think everyone knew that rooney and chicharito would start in his place, the real question was who to bench, owen or berba. think about it, if you’re going to bring on a third striker to nick a goal at the end of a game, who would you bring on, berba or owen? bad situation for berba, but it was the right decision. fergie explained that he wanted more options on the bench for mf and defence, which makes perfect sense for that type of match.

  11. Well said Ben. It would be interesting to see who will step up and score all the goals the next time Rooney decides to go awol. Welbeck? perhaps? don’t make me laugh.

    1. Si,Welbeck is too direct.Like a typical English player.we are not buying strikers so best to keep him.How were they expecting owen to come off the bench to score or scholes to do so with 20 mins left.Anyone remember him chewing gum and looking at the bench when barca went 2-1 up?No Berbatov.A big gamble and a huge mistake.

  12. A good article, but since I’ve always liked Berba I will quibble with your twice using the descriptive “lackadaisical” i.e. “showing lack of interest or spirit”. I do not think that is the case. I prefer “laconic” i.e. “terse, concise”. He plays like his personality.

    Surely Berba will always come off poorly in a comparison of playing styles with the bumblebees who run everywhere all the time whether or not it accomplishes anything. However, if you look at results he need not apologize for anything. In my mind he was the sole top scorer in the league this year. How many goals from open play did he have? How many for Tevez?

    At any rate it will be interesting to see what transpires over the summer. Quick, someone start a rumor that City is interested! 😉

    1. Whatever adjective I use to describe how some feel he plays, I still want him to stay.
      Haha yea I can just imagine Berba and Tevez trying to be on the same team again.

  13. seriously berba has bn unfairly treatd at united n i hope he doesnt leave. Luv ur article bout rooneys lack of form n im gettn playn wik in wik out. Hw i wish saf culd c ds n knw hw we utd tru fans feels bout d way hes treatn berba

  14. Don’t forget that Fergie has given Michael Owen an extension and he features to be the backup striker. If I’m Berbatov I’m upset that his manager thinks more highly of Owen than himself. Why would you want to stay when the manager fancies a has-been over you? I think Berbatov will leave probably to another European league.

    1. Owen costs very little and working out a deal with him is very easy because he’s just grateful to actually be on a team that wins. Plus his contract was up unlike Berba’s so his situation needed to be addressed first. I don’t think Fergie fancies Owen because he isn’t an idiot and knows how much impact the two players have. Hope he doesn’t leave.

  15. we need to play 4-4-2
    berba n chicha u frnt-rooney playin his free role behind them where he constantly drops to help midfield and 2 defensive midfielders.that should solve the problem
    berba is a pure class act,inteligence,vision,ball posseion-magnificant first touch and best of all scores some incredible goals…hes a fans sort of player,you go to a match to see 1 f berbas magical moments(who can forget his movement a few years back against west ham for the ronaldo goal?)if u deny that, there’s no way you appreciate football…the guy says he wants to stay,has never asked for a transfer practically bullied tottenham for the transfer and yet we get on our knees and beg rooney to become our highest earner.life really isn’t fair is it?
    granted his form may be inconsistent but what of his irregular playing time? we have average players throughout the midfield, that’s why we will continue to fall short against barca.

    note;only man u affords to drop its top goal scorer to the bench

    1. correction;should have been and 1 natural defensive midfielder-who can stamp his authority on the field.the likes of nigel de jong whom strikers fear getting close to.we never really found someone remotely similar to keane but thats what we need now.pity hargo…

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