Date: 26th March 2011 at 2:30pm
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As the world’s collective football attention shifts to international friendlies and qualifiers, those of us who find ourselves uninterested in such things are afforded ample time to stop and reflect upon the season up to this point. This week my thoughts have been of Dimitar Berbatov, a player who splits the fan base in a way few have ever done in our shirt.

Such ambivalence seems to have played its part in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selections, as the once preferred Bulgarian finds himself on the bench with frightening regularity. Since the start of 2011, the silky Bulgarian has started in 10 of 17 matches in all competitions. This is the same player who leads not only United, but the Premier League in goals scored with 20. Berbatov scored the crucial winner against Bolton after United were down to ten men, guaranteeing that United would remain top of the league, regardless of what transpired at West Brom.

Rumours of a summertime exit seem to be gaining momentum with teams like Bayern Munich and AC Milan supposedly interested in Berbatov. After watching Sir Alex stick with Berbatov during the striker’s leanest times, it shocks me now that Berbatov has found the scoring boots most United supporters believed to have been lost or left at Tottenham Hotspur that he cannot get a regular run in the side.

I understand that the rise of Javier Hernandez’s star has caused Berbatov’s to drop a bit in the United constellation. The little pea’s form has been sensational, having tallied 16 goals this season in all competitions. His goals to appearance ratio combined with Rooney’s return to form has left Berbatov watching from the bench.

Most supporters find this to be a good problem for the manager to have. I am sure that many managers would love to have to choose from Hernandez, Rooney and Berbatov on a weekly basis. But I do think there is a solution to this good problem, and it is this: play Rooney in an advanced midfield role, just behind the two strikers. The gaffer utilized Rooney in this way versus Arsenal in the FA Cup and the English striker seemed to relish the opportunity, pinging passes around the pitch.

I doubt that Sir Alex will employ that formation with any regularity, but it is one that could pay dividends in the three competitions that United remain a part of. And I am sure that Dimitar Berbatov will have a role to play in all three, come the end of the season. Whether he remains at the club after this year remains a mystery. I certainly hope that he does, being one of his biggest fans. Berbatov has proven his worth to the manager by scoring the beautiful and ugly goal and partnering well with either Rooney or Hernandez. And he has shown his class by not complaining about a lack of playing time. That, in and of itself, is worthy of any United fan’s respect and admiration.

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6 responses to “So what now for Dimitar Berbatov?”

  1. Tom says:

    Its amazing how a year ago most fans would have been hoping for someone to buy Berbatov. Today there is slight concern when he’s linked with other clubs.

    That is credit to Berbatov and the season he has had. I have no doubt about his future at our club. He will sign a new contract because Ferguson will not let him leave.

    Also people forget that Bebatov has played alot this season, especially with Rooney missing for the first half of the season. Its not a surprise if Fergie wanted to rest him a bit before this final push for the trophies.

  2. Marlowe says:

    I like this article. i feel that rooney IS the replacement for Scholesy that we are looking for. Drop him to an attacking mid role and play berba and hernandez up top. That will give wayne the freedom to roam the field and get the touches he needs to play his game. He’s full of energy and has great vision. so let him have that chance to use it. with berba’s guile and hernandez’s speed we would trouble any team in europe

  3. Diablo says:

    Berbatov needs to do it in Europe against the Big teams,he seems to go missing in these sort of games for some reason.Lets see how the season goes and take things from there.

  4. Ryan says:

    thinking more and more about Rooney being a MF these days as well. Alot of his best moments do come in his passing. AND he’s a shit tackler like scholes too!! As long as he is not stuck out there on the left. I hate the odd formations where we is out on the wing. He doesnt have the speed or dribbling skills for that.

  5. David says:

    Great article, But lets face it with Roo being an absalute flite risk and a bad public face we would be best rid of him. Why give a player that much power? i thought fergi always said no player is bigger than the club ( What a back track ). If i had it my way berbatov would play every match.