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Berba’s Future Still To Be Decided

With Danny Welbeck set to return to Manchester United following his loan spell with Sunderland and Michael Owen having signed a new contract, rumours have been rife about Dimitar Berbatov’s future.

Earlier in the week, there were claims that the club had agreed a deal with PSG for the Bulgarian, although these have since been refuted.

The player’s agent, Agent Emil Danchev, claims talks are needed with David Gill, with Berbatov keen to extend his current deal which has just 12 months remaining. “We’ll know more after we have talks with United, but Berbatov wants to stay and to keep winning trophies.”

Berbatov was the Premier League’s top scorer last season, although there are suggestions that United aren’t keen to offer him another big contract after he lost his place in the starting XI to Javier Hernandez.

Earlier in the season, Berbatov claimed he would rather quit football than leave Manchester United.

“I fought to have a chance to play for United and now I can only go down if I leave,” he said. “Why I should do this? It would be better to retire.”

With Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur also interested in signing him, it’s hard to believe Berba would actually quit football if not offered a new deal by United.

Sir Alex Ferguson has repeatedly shown his lack of faith in the Bulgarian when it comes to big games, with the biggest snub coming when he was omitted from the squad which faced Barcelona in the Champions League final. It looked as though there would be no going back for him then, although admirably, the player took the manager’s decision on the chin and again reaffirmed his loyalty to the club.

With Wayne Rooney’s predictable annual injury, as well as the less than consistent fitness of Owen and Welbeck, United could find themselves in trouble during the season if they don’t extend Berbatov’s deal.

The other option would be to let him see out his contract, although after spending £30m on his four years earlier, the club would be reluctant to allow him to leave on a free.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Sparkz says:

    Denton, do you not think we’ve got enough ball winner type players? I think creativity is what we need tbh

  2. Denise Williams says:

    Sparkz an excellent post. Personally I an very annoyed about accusations about Owen suggesting he is milking the coffers. Some people on hear do have an anti Owen agenda. Personally I think there is room at United for both Berba and Owen and both have a part to play. Sadly there are some who cannot see beyond the fact that Owen played for Liverpool. For goodness sake Owen got a very raw deal off Scousers and Geordies without getting it here at United.

  3. smartalex says:

    - There does at times seem to be a bit of an anti-Owen feeling on here
    - It is because of his Liverpool connections
    … and that’s why the enmity is totally justified.

    - Owen is a top pro, he doesn’t moan, he makes an impact, he adds value to the team and the young players and he earns low wages.
    … and that’s why his contract has been extended.

    Neither Welbeck nor Berbatov are endangered by the decision to keep Owen; just as neither Nani nor Valencia is endangered by the purchase of Young.

    Danny might go on loan again, although I think not. The quotes that claim that Sir Alex has guaranteed Welbeck a place have slightly twisted Danny’s statement: “The manager said I’ll get decent opportunities and hopefully I’ll take them and progress from there”

  4. denton davey says:

    Sparkz @ 16:20: “do you not think we’ve got enough ball winner type players? I think creativity is what we need”

    No; I think another ManchesterTerrier – to replace Owen Hargreaves – is just what’s needed to round out the squad.

    My thinking is that the two full-backs (Evra and the Da Silva Twins) supporting the wingers (Nani, Valencia, and now AshLey Young) provide plenty of creativity down the flanks and down the old-fashioned inside-right and -left channels. WayneBoy is a wonderful footballer – whether he’s played as a “withdrawn striker” or as an “attacking midfielder” – and Chicharito seems to have a magic touch in front of goal. So that’s four/six attacking players.

    If you shift WayneBoy back into midfield to accommodate another “withdrawn striker” then you’ve got five/seven attacking players.

    On the other hand, in some matches you want to have two “sitting midfielders” who are ball-winners. Carrick seems to be nailed-on to be the sweeper while Fletcherinho is, I guess, ahead of Anderson in the plans but it sure wouldn’t hurt to have another guy for this role OR for “possible” future “ultimate challenges” against Barcelona who have to be played much more aggressively than was the case in Rome or at Wembley.

    From what I remember, Sandro was the star of last year’s Copa Libertadores final for Internationale. Spurs had already purchased him but allowed him to finish the season in Brazil. That was a wise move, all around. This kid is a real up-and-comer with a very, very high up-side ceiling who would fit much better with UTD’s rotational system than, say, Modric. Actually, I think that Spurs would be nuts to sell Sandro and keep Modric – but that’s a different story, eh ?

  5. King Eric says:

    Sandro for Berba? No thanks.

  6. King Eric says:

    Denise – Priceless comment. Berba doesnt have the international experience? What are you talking about love? THE highest scorer by a distance for Bulgaria. Tons of gaames and goals.

    Berba is quality and United will be worse off without him.

  7. King Eric says:

    There is no anti Owen vibe at all. I think some are just bemused as to why if he was given an extension Berbatov wasnt. I am actually glad Owen has as he can put the ball in the net but surely Berba is staying. People forget just how good he was till Feb. Top drawer.

  8. Kings says:

    I would rather have Sandra Bullock.

    Great comment about Berbatov not having International experience. A lot of research was obviously undertaken before coming up with that accurate conclusion.

  9. wayne says:

    Denise Williams lol elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top

  10. paulscholes shoots says:

    we need him somehow

  11. StatesideAussie says:

    Sparkz at 15:58 (and earlier). “The fact that he was our top scorer last season doesn’t really come into it much for me. Because as well as he did to score those goals- he got them because for 80% of the season he was playing week in week out. It was only in March that he lost his spot.” You then go on to say that this season, it’s clear that he won’t be playing week-in, week-out, because that could be done only at the expense of Rooney or Hernandez, and that would make the team woud be less effective.

    So: when Berba plays week-in, week-out, he scores bags of goals, but this actually makes the team less effective. Therefore, Berba should not be allowed to play week-in, week-out. Therefore, he will be a failure. Therefore, he should be sold.

    Is that about it?

  12. StatesideAussie says:

    Wayne … if the elevator did go all the way to the top, it would open on an empty room.

  13. Rai says:

    Berbatov will never get a cap for Bulgaria…..

    Oh wait…………

  14. Sparkz says:

    Stateside- I said that it’s clear Berba is at his best when playing week in week out. He’s isn’t the kind of player who can not play for a while, and still be effective when called upon ( a la Solskjaer, Owen etc).

    It’s also clear that next season he won’t be playing week in week out. The reason for this being so clear? The manager’s team selection in the last few months + the fact that we were generally MORE EFFECTIVE without him.

    Therefore does it not make sense that he goes somewhere where he plays regularly, and plays well. Rather than staying at Utd, playing less often, which hinders his performance, and does nobody any favours? I didn’t say anything about him being a failure did I?

    I’m sure he can be a good striker if played week in week out- but I’m yet to see any evidence that he can be a good back up striker, someone who can come in despite not playing regularly and still do the business.

  15. StatesideAussie says:

    Sparkz … you didn’t actually use the word failure, but it’s implicit in what you’re saying. You’re saying that the only role for him is a part-time role, and he’s no good at that — in other words, he can’t deliver what the club needs. do you have any facts or stats to prove that United were more effective when Dimi didn’t play — you know, that we won more games, scored more goals, whatever? United won the PL last season, playing 38 games in total. Berbatov appeared in 32 of those matches, scored 21 goals — seven of them match winners. Do you have anything to show that we were more effective in the six matches he didn’t play? Anything to show that we would have been even more effective if he had not played in those 32 matches?

    In his 32 matches, we won 18 (56%), drew 10 (31%) and lost 4 (13%). Hernandez played 27 matches. Of those, we won 14 (52%), drew 9 (33%) and lost 4 (15%). It seems to me there’s not much a conclusive argument either way — I certainly can’t find anything to support the claim that United are more effective when Dimi doesn’t play!

  16. Sparkz says:

    The stats you display show that, as you said- there isn’t a conclusive argument either way. So statistically, there isn’t anything which shows Utd are more effective with Berba or Hernandez, they’re pretty evenly matched in that regard.

    So if the stats show there’s not much of a difference between our performances with/without Berba- what’s the best method to judge? The human eye of course, actually watching our games, which I’m sure everybody here does

    And I think the majority of people would agree that our actual performances have been much better, more cohesive, and more fluid without Berba. Football isn’t just a game of stats, and the stats you’ve kindly provided don’t really tell the story of how we actually play. All they show is the “win percentage” etc.

    Why else would the Boss have dropped him even though he was scoring plenty of goals? The world and his dog can see that generally, we play better withot Berba- not an indictment on him, its just that he doesn’t suit our style of play, and doest have enough chemistry with some of his team-mates

    Rooney & Carrick in particular are 2 players who’ve definitely benefited from the extra time and space they get from Chicharito stretching the play. Our midfield in general has more time and gets harried less- when Berba plays his lack of pace means teams push right up and squeeze us. There’s no stats which prove these things, but when you watch a game you can see it yourself.

    So yeah, in terms of how many games won etc- you might not be able to find an argument that says we play better without Berba, but watching a game will tell you that. Again, I go back to the question I asked before- why else would SAF have dropped Berba? He was scoring goals and we were winning games with him, yet he still replaced him. What other reason is there, apart from the fact that our performances are generally better without him.

  17. NBI Red Onion says:

    Berba may do a job if the first choice strikers are out but his wages are too high for a third or if wellbeck does well, fouth choice striker. With all the new players coming in he is probably a wage bill too far for a second string player which is what SAF clearly rates him as.

  18. StatesideAussie says:

    Sparkz … thanks for confirming that when you talked about United being MORE EFFECTIVE, as if it were some sort of fact, you were in reality just spouting your own opinion. Nothing wrong in that — it’s what all fans do, including me, and it’s what this site is for. And you’re right: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eyes, there are few sights on the football field that will ever equal the beauty of seeing the Berb haul a Scholes 50-yard rocket out of the sky and tame it instantly with one touch. Or his extraordinary overhead kick against the dippers in a crowded penalty box. Or his back-heel to Evra outside our own box, running up-field to collect the return, then firing his own long, diagonal, Scoles-like cross out to Nani on the other side, before running forward to collect the return and score from the edge of the other penalty box. Or his astonishing sideways scissors volley to score against West Ham. I like to see our team win, as do we all. And I love watching Hernandez and Rooney and all the others. But I also live for the moments of pure magic, and while Berbatov isn’t the only one who can pull a rabbit of the hat, there is magic in that right foot of his, and I am definitely under his spell.

    So, cheers. As for what most fans do or don’t believe, this site doesn’t have a poll mechanism and even if it did, that would only represent a fraction of United’s following. I also suspect that the results of any such poll would vary greatly depending on when it was conducted. Earlier last season — when it was The Berb who was winning us matches and keeping us in the PL race and beating our old foe the dippers — there weren’t many calling for his head, or his demotion to the bench.

  19. Mr C says:

    @stateside aussie:

    ‘… there are few sights on the football field that will ever equal the beauty of seeing the Berb haul a Scholes 50-yard rocket out of the sky and tame it instantly with one touch. Or his extraordinary overhead kick against the dippers in a crowded penalty box. Or his back-heel to Evra outside our own box, running up-field to collect the return, then firing his own long, diagonal, Scoles-like cross out to Nani on the other side, before running forward to collect the return and score from the edge of the other penalty box. Or his astonishing sideways scissors volley to score against West Ham.’

    One of the most eloquent pieces of prose I’ve seen on a blog ever, never mind a footy blog. Sheer poetry. Sounds soppy but it literally had tears welling in my eyes reading that. Really. Encapsulates perfectly why United is loved and why Berba must stay.

  20. willierednut says:

    Al this thread is missing, the somber music at the end of the incredible hulk series. La la la la… :lol:

  21. StatesideAussie says:

    Mr C — cheers mate, and thanks! I have a feeling (which may be no more than blind optimism) that The Berb’s story with United is not yet fully written. I have a great wallpaper for my computer of his volley against the hamnmers — it’s on the official United site, in their wallpapers section, if you’re interested. Long live Berbarotica!

  22. StatesideAussie says:

    Willie … if the Berb leaves, I’ll be singing the blues … “Now when my Berba left me…”

  23. willierednut says:

    Life goes on…

  24. StatesideAussie says:

    Life after the Berb? Possibly. But for me, anyway, it will be a little duller and sadder, more mundane and ordinary. But I’ll get over it.

  25. willierednut says:

    He’s won’t be the first player to leave? If he does go this summer. Keane, Butt, Phil Neville, Becks, Cantona etc…United will go on and still be successful. The Berb will go to some club(not PSG) and continue to score goals. Nothing is confirmed as of yet.

  26. StatesideAussie says:

    Willie … all true. But in this case, a couple of things will always rankle with me, beyond missing him as a player. The biggest of those is that if he leaves now, there’s a certain section of our fan base that will always consider him to have been a failure and a waste of money. Another is that in many cases, when players have left, it has been because of declining ability, physical issues or poor attitude. (There have been exceptions, and Cantona was one, because I always believed he had another 2-3 years in him.) But none of that is true in The Berb’s case. Yes, he is reaching the point where he might start to decline due to age, but I am not so sure. The guys who tend to suffer most at the 30-mark are those whose game is built on raw speed — like Owen. Speed wasn’t Owen’s only weapon — good vision, fantastic touch, he had all the assets — but it was that extra half-yard of speed that set him apart. But the Berb’s game isn’t built on speed, as we know. His performance last year can hardly said to have been one that indicated a player in decline.

    Having said all that, I am not convinced he will leave this year. Cheers!

  27. Lexxy says:

    @ stateside aussie. I enjoy ur insight to berba’s 3yrs at Utd. Now listen to this. I will never forget that back headed goal @ stoke or the 36th seconds goal against chelsea @ o.t . Those and many more in just half a season. If am given a choice between the two players. I know who my pick wil be(CHICO). And many reds here wil agree with me. As for welbeck, i think he and cleverly should stay @ o.t next season

  28. willierednut says:

    StatesideAussie – Why do you care, whether some fans think he was a flop? The only thing that matters is, you don’t believe that to be true. Again, we don’t know if he’s going. When it’s all said and done, Sir Alex Ferguson is the manager of Manchester United. He’ll make that decision. If he decides to let Berbatov go, I’m sure it’ll be with a heavy heart. You gotta make these calls in life. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks. Better him, than me…

  29. StatesideAussie says:

    Lexxy … right, but I don’t believe that it has to be a choice between them, not given the way we work a squad system. In any other club, it would be a choice. But in ours, it doesn’t need to be. And in fact, shouldn’t be.

    Willie … I hear you, buddy. And of course, you are right in every respect about SAF. But then again, if followed to its logical conclusion, there would be no point in any of us discussing anything about selections or transfers or this player or that player, would there? We would all just wait and see what SAF does from match to match and season to season, nod our heads in agreement at whatever that is, and go on our way.

    The club comes first for me, as it does for you. I just happen to think it’s a better club with Berbatov in it, that’s all. I don’t think it comes down to him versus Hernandez, or him versus anyone. There are matches I wouldn’t play Berbatov at all, and matches where I would play him first, and for the most part, I think SAF gets that right. I do wish Berbatov had been available on the bench against Barcelona — not because I think he could have won the match for us (there’s no way to know), but because it would have given Barcelona something different to chew on, when our Plan A clearly wasn’t working. But in saying that, I am not at all critical of SAF, because I am talking with the benefit of hindsight, and SAF had to make the call up-front and he couldn’t possibly cover every eventuality. Like you said, better him than us. But Berbatov adds a different dimension, and it’s one that’s useful to us over a long season with the many different types of opponent that we must play and beat. Cheers!

  30. willierednut says:

    Well, there’s no debate, until we know, if he’s going, or not. I’ve said, everything I’m gonna say about Berbatov. He’s a top player. I hope he stays, but wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves. As with Rooney, I’ll support the managers decision, whatever the outcome.


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