Is Berbatov the new Veron?By: Rob | April 21st, 2009
Ah Juan Sebastian Veron. After winning Serie A with Lazio, Sir Alex Ferguson bought him, convinced he was the last piece of a jigsaw needed to take Man United to a whole other level. It didn’t really work out that way. Veron looked fine in Europe where he got time on the ball, but suffered from the quick pace of the Premier League. The critisism reached fever pitch and Fergie had to come out in a press conference and announce he wouldn’t talk to a press that was critical of such a good player. It shut no-one up and he was sold to Chelsea. Where he fared no better.
The story might be repeating itself with Dimitar Berbatov. Chased by Fergie for roughly a thousand years on the basis that he would be the player who would take Man United to another level, a team that could attack as well as it could defend. Fergie has been drawn in a press conference to defend the Bulgarian international after his penalty miss put the cap on what appears to be massive underperformance.
So is Berba the new Seba?
Berbatov certainly seems to have had a dissapointing first season, even if his side do win the Premier League this season. For a striker, and one who contributed 15 goals to a pretty freescoring Spurs attack in the league last season, his current return of 8 goals from 26 league appearances will be of worry for someone who cost the club £30m
Interestingly though, he’s fourth on the list of assist makers this season with 8. He’s just one behind leader Frank Lampard (though Lampard has made 110 key passes to Berba’s 48, and Lampard has, even from midfield got more goals) which appears not to be too bad.
He also has 4 goals in the Champions League this season – although two came against Aalborg, and two against Celtic, none have come in the knockout stages.
The problem though is perhaps beyond stats. Berbatov appears lazy on the pitch, which is fine when he appears to be delivering the goods, but this season he hasn’t seemed to be. His awful penalty against Everton only seemed to highlight that.
The trouble Berbatov has, perhaps is that when things aren’t going well, he tends to retreat into himself. It is hard to keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, and Berbatov seems uninteresting – he did at Spurs too – unless his team is playing well.
The other issue that perhaps United fans have is that Berbatov has seemingly pushed Carlos Tevez to the fringes of the club. Certainly the two are very different – Tevez works exceptionally hard, tracks back and never stops running, which are more endearing features, especially if things aren’t going well. Fergie however seems to have made his choice, Berbatov is his first choice.
Its not too late for Berbatov though. Lest we forget, it is only his first season at Man United, and plenty of players at all sorts of clubs have had indifferent first years before winning everyone over. Certainly the comparrison that was often made before he joined was of Cantona, another player who could sometimes sulk on the fringes. The differences between the two though were that Cantona always seemed to find a goal when United needed it, and he knew how to get into the fans good books. Cantona was always a bit more fiery than Berbatov too. But maybe if Dimitar can take a leaf or two out of the Frenchman’s book, he’ll have a great career at United.