Earlier this week, Daniel Levy was still mouthing off about Dimitar Berbatov. His decisions as a chairman have been costly, with his club lingering around at the bottom of the table. Following a dramatic draw in the week against Arsenal as well as the late win over the dippers yesterday, they have moved up to 18th, but still just one point off the very bottom.
Now, Levy knew Berbatov and Robbie Keane wanted out and Levy had a decision to make. Either don’t let them leave at all, or get rid of them quickly. United had put in bids which would see Spurs more than double their money on him, yet they were clearly holding out for £30 million, to triple their money. So hell-bent were they to make such a profit that they had to wait until the final hours of deadline day to agree a deal.
Congratulations Spurs, you got your £30 million, but when are you going to spend it? With the transfer deadline over, they now had no time to put their bids in. Had they settled for £27-28 million during that final week, they would have had plenty of time to convince Andrei Arshavin or whoever else they wanted to join the club.
With Levy clearly having egg on his face, he’s now sounding insults wherever he can, hoping the Tottenham fans are foolish enough to direct their anger in any other direction but in his.
“We had a player who had refused to play two games for us, having a detrimental affect on the dressing-room,” said Levy. “We’d known for a year that the player had wanted out of this club. We were very disappointed. Dimitar Berbatov was a player who we brought to this club at a time when Man Utd were interested in him. He made a conscious decision to come to this club, we invested a lot of money, nobody had ever heard of Dimitar Berbatov when we bought him. A year later with 10 days to go to the end of the window he tells us he wants to leave to go to Manchester United.”
Of course it’s disappointing when your star player wants out, but what did they really expect? They signed Berbatov on the pretence that they would be playing Champions League football. Like Liverpool can be mocked for believing every year will be their year to reclaim the league title, a similar story has been going on with Spurs in regards to the 4th spot in the Premiership.
So did he have a sulk and refuse to play in his second season? Were his performances lacking? Was his commitment? No, he scored 23 goals, the same as the season before, yet they still finished in the bottom half of the table. What use is scoring 23 goals when you’re playing for a team that concedes over 60 in a season?
Unsurprisingly, he wanted out. Carlos Tevez scored 19 goals that season, Wayne Rooney scored 18, yet both of them had league title and European Cup winners medals to show for it. Should Berbatov be begrudged for wanting his efforts to be rewarded in the same way?
“I don’t think he treated this club with the respect that we honestly deserved,” Levy explained. “We put him on the map, I think he’s an outstanding player, but he signed a long-term contract with this club and I think he should have stayed.”
Levy wanted Berbatov to stay, yet was happy for his manager, Juande Ramos, who had been there for less than a year, to make a decision to allow him to leave? More fool him.
In regards to these highly arrogant comments about ‘putting Berbatov on the map’ and ‘no one had ever heard of him before he signed for Spurs’, Levy should probably be reminded that Berbatov played in a European Cup final a few years before joining Spurs. Someone ought to let him know that he’d scored against Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the European Cup. In 2005, Levekusen finished top of a group that contained Real Madrid, Dynamo Kyiv and Roma. Berbatov scored in their 3-0 win over Real, as well as their 1-1 away fixture at the Bernabeu.
Manchester United have their own memories of Berbatov too, from the 2002-2003 season when we drawn in the same group as them. In the home fixture, it was a decisive pass from Berbatov that split open our defence and lead to a penalty. Fortunately, Jan Simak smashed it miles over the bar. In the away fixture, Berbatov scored against us, and came close on occasion to scoring a crucial second, in our 2-1 win.
Yet Levy has the balls to come out and say nobody had heard of Berbatov before Spurs? Fuck off. Levy might not have heard of him, but he shouldn’t assume everyone else has such a limited knowledge of talent on the continent. Liverpool and United fans could have told anyone all about Berbatov, yet Levy is of the deluded opinion that it was Spurs who made Berbatov what he is. Unreal!
“I had so many conversations with him,” Levy added. “He kept saying it was about his ambition to play for Manchester United. It wasn’t a money issue. We offered him a new contract and he wasn’t even interested in discussing it.”
For all his talk of tapping-up and illegal approaches, the Premier League board sent Spurs away, citing lack of evidence, giving them the option to return once they had decent proof. Problem is, Spurs didn’t have any proof. Embarrassingly, Levy had based his claims of tapping-up on the comments which appeared in The Sun attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson. When Fergie laughed off these claims, Levy could hardly admit that his outburst against our manager was solely down to quotes printed in a tabloid! So unless Spurs left their most damning evidence at home that day, it’s fairly obvious Levy was just full of hot air, and didn’t have anything to back it up with.
Berbatov hadn’t behaved like a mercenary in this situation, rather wanted to fulfil his ambition of playing for United. He gave two seasons of his career to Spurs but when it became clear that Spurs weren’t going to be playing Champions League football any time soon, he wanted out. He turns 28-years-old in a few months, so how many years did Spurs want him to give up for their sake? Should he have waited until he was 30 before he sought out Champions League football, hoping that teams playing in the competition would still be interested? Just because Spurs’ ambitions or ability did not match Berbatov, why should he be forced to pay the price? You only get one career, you only have one peak… why should he waste it with a team that can’t even finish in the top half of the table?
Cristiano Ronaldo wanted off and all it took was one conversation with our manager in order for him to want to stay. Levy had several conversations with Berbatov, but it was clear nothing was going to convince him to stay, not even a new and improved contract. That was the time Spurs needed to cut their losses, rather than trying to play hardball, scrounging for another few million quid off United, at the cost of seeing the transfer window close before they were able to spend it.
Levy is a spineless little twat, who hopes if he keeps spouting his nonsense to the press the fans won’t get wise to how he has let them down so badly. Spurs fans would be better off directing their anger and frustration in Levy’s direction though, rather than Berbatov, as someone has to be accountable for the mess they are in… and my money is on the man who sacked Jol, pursued Ramos against Sevilla’s wishes only to sack him less than a year later, as well as allowing both their top strikers to leave without ensuring they had competent replacements. Yet Levy is determined to make this all about Berbatov. You’d have to be pretty naive to allow someone to con you in to thinking that 9 points from 11 games is more to do with Dimitar Berbatov than Daniel Levy!
Made in Manchester is available for just £3. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.