A year in to his Tottenham Hotspur career, Dimitar Berbatov decided he wanted to play for Manchester United. He let Daniel Levy know his desires but Berbatov was told he wouldn’t be going anywhere. He had just seen United finish Champions of England, reaching the FA Cup final and European Cup semi-finals. In contrast, Spurs finished 5th in the league, eight points behind Arsenal, reached the 6th Round of the FA Cup, and the UEFA Cup quarter finals.
Had the deal for Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid been completed earlier in the summer of 2006, he would probably have already been at Old Trafford, but this wasn’t to be, and he was left with no winners medals.
Regardless, Berbatov got on with it, dedicated to help the cause, and scored 23 goals for Spurs the following season. This was 5 goals more than Wayne Rooney, 4 goals more than Carlos Tevez, yet he had the memory of just the League Cup final to cheer him up, opposed to the League title and European Cup the United strikers had.
He had done his bit, but the club weren’t doing theirs. Why should a player scoring over 20 goals a season be stuck at a club that doesn’t even finish in the top half of the table, when the current Champions of England and Europe want him to play for them? It was no contest. Yet the blame for Spurs’ dreadful start to the season, coupled with all the bitterness and resentment that came with it, was dropped on Berbatov’s doorstep.
Robbie Keane, who had pledged his future to the club, seem to get off fairly lightly though.
“There’s always speculation that I’m going here, there and everywhere but I’m very content with my life and with my time at Spurs,” Keane said at the end of May, just a month before signing for Liverpool. “I will continue to play there for as long as I am happy and for as long as I am wanted.”
In contrast, Berbatov was very honest with his intentions. At 27-years-old, he wanted to take possibly the once in a lifetime opportunity to play for the Champions of England Europe, and let this be known. He didn’t put on some front like he was this dyed-in-the-wool loyal supporter of the club, who would stay at Spurs for as long as they wanted him. He was up front. He’d scored 46 goals in two years and now he was ready to move on. Keane tried to keep the fans sweet, knowing all along that interest from Liverpool would be enough to get him out of London. Yet Berbatov is the villain for Spurs’ fans.
In a month’s time, United will travel to White Hart Lane, meaning Spurs’ fans will be given the opportunity to let Berbatov know exactly what they think of him, but Berbatov insists he has nothing but good things to say about Tottenham.
“I will always have special feelings for Tottenham,” said Berbatov. “They showed me the way in English football. I will never have anything bad to say about the club. I watch every game they play. I was just surprised the team got off to such a bad start because Juande Ramos was a very good coach. Now Harry Redknapp has come in, a very experienced manager, and I am pleased they are going up the table.”