Sunday, 31 January 2010
Birthday Boy Berbatov In The Last Chance Saloon..
Yesterday Mr Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov was 29 years young.
Its a good age for a modern footballer. The age where you are at your technically best. Yes, you may not we 21 anymore, but physically you are normally perfectly balanced with your mental attributes. Its what managers like to describe as 'at their peak'
However, for Dimi its quite possibly the age that will convince Sir Alex to bin him. Berbatov's goalscoring contribution to the team since his arrival eighteen months ago has been less than spectacular. He hit a 1 in 3 average in the Prem last season. This year he is more like averaging 1 in 2 in the league, but injuries have warped this figure due to lack of appearances. A return of 21 goals in 68 total appearances doesn't seem like the worst stat in the world, but combine this with the common perception of many United fans, then you suddenly have a stick to beat him with.
United's common policy of singing young players is well known, even if we do flout this whenever we so choose to do. At the time of his signing, a last minute interest by City inflated his price tag up to £30 million..but that's not his fault. Value for money is more important than ever with the Glazer money issues, and unfortunately Mr B is not living up to the billing.
We know Berba's strengths are there..he holds the ball well and chooses the right pass. He has consummate control. His brain is almost MENSA standard when it comes to playing the game. But the fact remains that he is a shy lad, who is playing in a team where personality is everything. I'm not so naive as to say that if he beat his chest like Tevez did and ran around a bit more that that would solve everything..but it would help his defence in a court of law. In fact, Tevez only managed a goal ratio of 1 in 6 last season in the league..and he played just 2 games less than the Bulgarian.
So what do we do with him? Is there a way forward? Personally i think he has improved this season. He looks more comfortable in a United shirt. But he is way off Rooney's chart at the moment. Not even on the same page. They do not look like a pair. That may well be Roo's fault as much as Dimi's but Mr White Pele is the one scoring the lion-share of the goals. Fergie still favours Berbatov more than any after Roo..that's for sure. But at 29 years old and 2 years into a 4 year contract, this summer may see the end of him. Is he worth a big new stellar contract in 2010-11..well, maybe if he turns back into that player that led Spurs so well. But as it stands, he is a commodity that the manager could utilise to get funds for transfers. He would still be worth about £15-£18 million now, but how much in a year? He will be in his thirties before we blink, and we would be stuck with a player who could run down his contract and skip away on a Bosman. That would be a disaster to the club in this financial climate.
He is standing in the exact same shoes that Juan Sebastian Veron was stood in. Big money signing - couple of steady but not top notch years - fans on his back - trying to reach heights that we know he should be hitting - got sold. Veron went on to have an injury plagued few years but has just been voted South American Footballer of the Year for the second straight time after some consistantly dazzling displays in Argentina. The quality of the player was never, ever in doubt. It was he just couldnt peform his magic at United. He was a circle trying to fit into a square.
If Berbatov does not realise his potential in the next few, short months, I think it would be wise to trade him somehow. Would he fancy a trip to Spain? Maybe a part exchange to Valencia? Possibly. He has let it be known that his desire is to succeed with us, but time is hugely against him. He is not an old man. But he is a potential time-bomb waiting to go off.
When will Fergie run out of patience? Well, if no fourth straight league title is becoming, then that may flick the switch.