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‘Nerdy’ Berbatov Has Brilliant Attitude & Fans Should Love Him

I have fought Dimitar Berbatov‘s corner since he joined Manchester United and came under criticism from our own fans as much as elsewhere. I saw enough in him to stick my neck out and acknowledge that whilst he wasn’t scoring as much as we’d hoped, he was class and we needed to give him time. If you don’t get Berbatov, you don’t get football became somewhat of a catchphrase, feeling the need to repeatedly defend the guy. But his penalty miss in the FA Cup semi-final was the final nail in the coffin for some fans.

His attitude since joining us has been fantastic, repeatedly confirming that playing for Manchester United is a massive deal for him and that he wants to stay here for the rest of his career.

Whilst generally our fans have begun to warm him, impressed with his brilliant touch, ability to keep the ball, and knack of picking out perfect passes, there is still a feeling that he is ‘lazy’. Sir Alex Ferguson has refuted this claim in the past and Berbatov has set out to prove those who claim that wrong.

So, has Berbatov lived up to his price tag? He doesn’t think so. “Man, who can live up to that sort of money?” he said. “Nobody can. If I think about that money it is crazy to me. I can’t believe it. But in my first year I was disappointed in myself. I need to say that. My nerves were too much and that is my responsibility. I think I wanted so much to prove myself to these supporters. You must remember, they are used to Best, Charlton, Cantona. I am just Dimitar. It was a big pressure for me and maybe I failed myself. I got a number of assists, but I must score more goals. I am more pleased with my overall game in this second season already. I feel that I have integrated myself better into the team. I am much stronger, much fitter. I still wish I could score more. I don’t know what I am doing wrong sometimes. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s me…who knows? At nights I have kept myself awake thinking ‘you could have done this instead’.”

Berbatov appears to be a very reflective player and a big thinker, so has dwelling so much on his first year meant the enjoyment has been taken out of his football?

“What? How can you even ask that man?” he asked. “I am a footballer playing for the best club in the world. I am playing with legends like Scholes, Giggs and Rooney. Being coached by a man like Sir Alex Ferguson. How can I not be happy?”

Berbatov is aware that sections of the fans still don’t like him but he is quite happy to take that criticism on board.

“Then that is my fault, not theirs,” he said. “It is me who must change. Manchester United is their club. They have treated me perfectly since I came.”

Football is very much about statistics these days but Berbatov would like to see his statistics put him on top for work rate.

“I don’t run for no reason,” he added. “I am always alert and ready. I will be honest. This criticism did affect me, but not in a negative way. I looked at our ProZone stats and saw that I was ninth in distance covered. I am kind of a nerd. I looked at them too much, maybe. By the end of the season I was 4th. Maybe this season I will be 1st!”

More and more reasons to love him. I honestly don’t get why people don’t like the guy. Carlos Tevez ran around like a blue-arsed fly last season but scored just one goal for every 371 minutes he was on the pitch. But he was a trier, just like Alan Smith, so he was adored. Berbatov was far more effective in front of goal, in terms of both scoring and assisting goals, but because he didn’t boot the ball five yards in front of him and chase after it every time it came to him, so able was he to bring the ball down with his first touch, our fans didn’t have time for him.

Carlos Tevez
(08/09) 1856 minutes, 5 goals, 3 assists.
Strike rate – 1 goal per 371 minutes.
Behind a goal every 232 minutes.

Dimitar Berbatov
(08/09) 2542 minutes, 9 goals, 10 assists.
Strike rate – 1 goal per 282 minutes.
Behind a goal every 134 minutes.

The people who were drowning out Ferguson’s end of season speech with ‘Fergie, sign him up!’ need to have a think about what kind of player we want at Manchester United. I’d argue that a player that wouldn’t even think twice about joining City for that money over playing for us is the kind we want at our club. The kind of player who sees us as the biggest and best in the world and sees no reason why he would ever want to leave. A player who truly appreciates getting to work alongside the great players and manager we have. A player who will take criticism on board and find fault in himself, rather than responding to fan criticism with claims that he wants to leave. A player who wants to improve and do whatever he can to help the team do well and keep the fans happy.

I’m desperate for him to do so well this season that people have no choice but to acknowledge his contribution. But like Wednesday proved, you don’t need to be banging the goals in to be the best and most effective player on the park. Tevez didn’t contribute much with goals last season but his contribution was his willingness to run his balls off. Berbatov contributed more goals last season, but not enough, but his contribution was all his assists and lovely play around the final third which lead to goals.

The fella is absolute quality and I’m more than happy to pay to watch him play.

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. Mic says:

    Right I hate Tevez as much as the next guy now but compare his first season with Berbatovs, how many times did Tevez have to come off the bench compared to Berbatov? I think we’re being far too harsh on Tevez considering he scored vital after vital goal for us during our most successful season during the 2000s (in terms of prestige in trophy) Ronaldo may have scored 42 goals but Tevez played a massive part and got vital goals against Lyon, Chelsea, Liverpool etc…

    I do prefer Berbatov myself but stop comparing him to Tevez, if you want to compare Tevez to someone compare him to Rooney ‘cuz that’s who in all fairness he was competing with and that’s why we got rid, Tevez offers us nothing that Rooney can’t offer if we asked him too, without Ronaldo we don’t need Tevez, we don’t need players to cover for his mistakes anymore, we don’t need all that running about, we need class and as for impact subs, we’ve got the best there is, Owen.

    Remember with Tevez, in 5 years he’ll be at Boca too so he offers no resale value either, don’t want that at my club.

  2. thedevil85 says:

    yeah agree, he is a playmaker/striker but not a poacher type , nor is big wayne,hence saf bringin michael (the fox in the box)owen to the team.
    berbs n rooney are to good technically to not have the ball so they go deep in search of possesion when really they shud leave to midfielders! not knocking them like, but owen is the type who stays up and is always there to react to bounces in the box. to me if a goal gets scored from 5yard tap in or 30yard scorcher,they are still just a goal in prem league terms,altho 30 yarders more pleasing to the eye,
    right place at the right time is intelligent play in my eyes.
    EARLY GOAL WILL HELP TOMORROW,surrender brucie!

  3. redguy says:

    I have been wanting to leave a comment on ROM for a while and now i have found the perfect article to start.
    The second Berba came to us i loved him from then on. His attitude, as you put so well Scott, is awesome… especially as more and more of our players seem to be falling in love with the club.
    I was really suprised at the way BerbaGod was treated last year. Sitting in the Stretford end, i expected those around me to appreciate the amazing skill and class this fella possesses. But he was forever criticised and jeered by our OWN FANS!!
    Now i know we expect the best, but anyone who puts on that red shirt needs our support!… If its Berba or John Smith from Salford! Thats assuming he was shit. But i saw a bloke who was coming to a dream club and having to find his feet. I defy anyone to come to United and do as well as Berba in a first season, the important goals, assists etc…
    I also seem to remember the critisism Darren ‘the football genius’ Fletcher recieved. Now look at him!
    All in all, he is proving his worth. I didn’t need all these brilliant quotes from him about how amazing our club is… he had me sold the second he touched the ball in the red shirt. Now i think we have to get behind him 100% every second, of every game.
    Dimi…Pure class!!

  4. manutdchampions2008 says:

    Did you read my post no you did not? I used 2 sets of targets 24 goals or 30, if berbatov can’t get too 24 goals then you have to question if he good enough. I did not say he needs to score a maximum of 30 goals to prove himself but if he all that like scott thinks he is then 30 should be no problem. And to blame van nistlerooy for winning 1 league title is quiet unfair and small minded. Do not forget united had the worst squad ever under fergie the 03/04 squad which we were fielding at times kleberson djemba bellion p neville howord all in one 11 at one time so that has no argument, van nistlerooy came at the wrong time.

    berbatov cost 30 million and his job is to hurt opponents and score goals, we already have Rooney who will not always score very week. We do not need 2, another thing when did I say we need 11 messis or ronaldos stop posting garbage response to try and justify your post. I would rather a messi and a torres in the united side than valencia and berbatov who both are limited in terms of goals return, when the reality is fergie tried to sign a striker which means he is not convinced with berbatov, united are still short of 2 wingers a striker and another CM. So let’s get this right you would rather mediocre rubbish like Valencia than say the best, aren’t united supposed to be the biggest club in the world by your response there that does not sound like it.

  5. kel says:

    @manutdchampions2008 I guess you better change teams to support. You are a disgraceful fans. If you were a united fans then you really better change to Real Madrid. Go now. No point comparing players. At the end of the day, i don’t want superstars in my favorite club. I want players who loves being in united. I love players who work hard even if they are not the best. I love the player for how they play. If you want messi, ronaldo, good wingers. Then go play your championship manager in your computer or go support Real Madrid. Pitiful if you were a united fans. I don’t think you can call yourself united fans cause you surely are not~

  6. joered says:

    Bless him.
    Attitudes like his, scholes and giggs are what Utd are about!

  7. Scott the Red says:

    manutdchampions2008 – so before you will be convinced, Berbatov has to be as effective as Ronaldo? So, you’re not expecting much from him then?

    There isn’t a single player in our squad who has been effective as Ronaldo was week in week out, (I include Scholes and Giggs in that) so why you think Berbatov should match Ronaldo is beyond me.

    £30m is a lot of money, course, but that’s how much we had to pay to get him. There wasn’t up for debate. So if you’d rather £30m in our pocket than Berbatov, then fair play, but I think that’s mad. Or do you think we could have got Messi, Iniesta, Torres for £30m the summer before last?

  8. Isaidso says:

    Kel – I wouldn’t waste my time responding to manutdchampions2008 mate, or others like him, because one thing SOME United fans are very good at is KILLING their own playing troops, and that with unfriendly fire. Talk about the enemy within eh? You just keep the faith man, and support EVERY player on the pitch wearing a Man Utd shirt, and they will in time give you a return for your faith and supprt of them! The Stretford enders boo-ing and jeering Berba are not the Stretford enders of old mate, because the REAL STRETFORD ENDERS sang their hearts out and protected every player from the stands with fierce verbal support against all comers from fans of the opposition.

  9. King Eric says:

    manunitedchampions2008 – Another CM? Are you fucking insane? How many do we need. We have Fletch, Scholes, Anderson, Carrick, Hargreaves, Gibson. Do NOT tell me these are not good enough mate. At the minute all those mentioned are either playing superbly or starting to find their form.

  10. King Eric says:

    Another thing your logic is mental. As we are the biggest club in the world does that mean we need to buy all the most expensive players? By your logic it would appear so. It is all about the balance which over the years our manager ain’t done “too bad” at getting that balance spot on.

  11. UnitedRay says:

    Berbatov is pure class…. I saw that from the start.
    Yes, for a moment it did appear that he is a tad lazier but who wouldn’t appear so when playing beside Rooney and Tevez?
    Besides central striker are supposed to stay near the center and not running around like headless chicken lest the formation loses its spearhead and crosses unable to find target man.

    However scott, I have to agree with 8aashishm.
    Your comparison is not invalid. Hell no.
    Just that we feel that we should get this ingrate out of our minds already.
    I despise traitors and a part of me still hate David Beckham for leaving United.
    Hell, I also hate Schimeichel for playing for the bitters and claiming their fans are great!
    So let us forget Tevez so that the hurt can be minimized. :)

    UnitedRay from Singapore.

  12. UnitedRay says:

    Berbatov is pure class…. I saw that from the start.
    Yes, for a moment it did appear that he is a tad lazier but who wouldn’t appear so when playing beside Rooney and Tevez?
    Besides central striker are supposed to stay near the center and not running around like headless chicken lest the formation loses its spearhead and crosses unable to find target man.

    However scott, I have to agree with 8aashishm.
    Your comparison is not invalid. Hell no.
    Just that we feel that we should get this ingrate out of our minds already.
    I despise traitors and a part of me still hate David Beckham for leaving United.
    Hell, I also hate Schimeichel for playing for the bitters and claiming their fans are great!
    So let us forget Tevez so that the hurt can be minimized. :)

    UnitedRay from Singapore.

  13. NBI Red Onion says:

    Berbatov played really really well on wednesday, he was a pleasure to watch.

    We do need t support him and Nani. But Berbatov is 28 and the article in Sun and others was a bit worrying in the sense that he does not come across as very mentally strong, United players thrive on pressure and the big stage, even quiet ones like Scholes, Berbatov struggles mentally – not good.

    I hope he can go on from here and do better, but he is still a bit of an enigma and there is still a question mark, what I would like to see is him and Owen start a few games together.

    Owen is inteligent and a box player, I think Owen and Berbatov are more of a natural fit than Berba and Rooney.

    We do need another out and out striker though, 2 out and out strikers and Berba and Owen would be class.

    A good point was made, no one fears Berba, that is a bit worrying for a striker, he has to get the goals in and get scary – we need people to fear him grrrrrrrr !!!!

    (And I agree, let’s stop talking about Tevez, it is really too much and a lot of nonsense in some cases, move on! He worked hard for us, who knows what happened with him and management, it is not difficult to understand why he moved on, he did not know Ronaldo would be sold and he’d have more opportunities to start. He is quite a good player, I wish him well, but I would like him to also stop talking down United / SAF)

  14. kel says:

    @Isaidso A moment of angry caught me. I apologize for it as i really hate to see our own fans not thinking of the club and thinking for themselves. I agree with you what you said. We have seen so many examples of our REAL fans supporting the players when in difficult times like Beckham, Ronaldo. We should support them and welcome them and that way we will get our repay just like Vidic, Evra, Fletcher did. I really like to see our players prosper in the way fletcher did and i believe we will. We need to stand by them and let them progress in their pace. Let the manager decide if it is good for the team and not the fans who decide when to let them player leave.

  15. manutdchampions2008 says:

    King Eric
    when you break it down I think united do need another CM player. you look through the list and yes there are numbers but not much cover or quality.
    carrick is poor he had a decent game but I am not convinced. anderson is not a CM player. hargreves may never come back right again, scholes has not got much time left, fletcher is awesome. but united ned a top class CM player they are lacking that bit of control in the middle to balance fletcher in the middle. nani valencia park not good enough and a couple of wide players are needed. united are also desperate for a central striker and put rooney back where he belongs the second striker.

    didnt smith kleberson and djemba enjoy playing for the club and loved it does not mean they are good enough did it. the irony is ronaldo this superstar u dnt ever wanted playing for the club was the main factor behind the success of the last 3 years. especially 2008

  16. Corea says:

    As Jake said in the summer some of us wouldn’t mind if this season would have been a season without major trophies and a season we built a new team. I wouldn’t mind also. But now we see that we have every chance in the world to win titles and it makes me proud of us and our manager. He will get players next year or maybe not. Nani has lots of potential, Valencia is strong and fast etc (should use his left foot). There are players who will make progress and may develop into the players we need to build a strong and massive team. All they need is belief.
    So shut da fuck up and remember what 99% of us thought at a time about Fletcher’s progress.
    I said it once and i will say it one again. I wouldn’t swap Sheasy for Bosingwa, Ramos and so on. You know why.
    There some things you can’t buy.

  17. Los Angeles Red Devil says:

    Berba is genius, I can watch him play all day.

  18. Isaidso says:

    @NBIRedOnion – It is to Berba’s advantage that nobody fears him, because they are not then giving him a lot of attention, and this gives him opportunity to express his skills, without bone crunching tackling on him from the butchers of the PL. This is why Berba keeps mostly injury free. Look how many times he found space in the box in the City game. Their players were watching Rooney, Giggsy etc – and Berba was finding a glut of space. Long may the opposition continue to NOT FEAR HIM!

  19. Isaidso says:

    @Kel – If some of our fans were to decide who leaves OT, believe me Fletcher would have been long gone. Just goes to show how wrong fans can be eh?

  20. aig alex is god says:


    agree mate.We have to give him time.he is a class act and we know it.just needs to cevelop an even better understanding with rooney.sure it will happen as the season progresses.

  21. Isaidso says:

    @aigalex – yeah mate – I just hope the Berba/Rooney partnership will develop, because they are both the kind of players that like to be just behind a main striker, even IF SAF IS TRYING to groom Rooney for the front striker role. Sadly Wayne is not able to hold the ball up, because he hasn’t got the consistent close ball control needed to make the ball stick with him until other players can catch up. Berba does have that stickability though, he can hold the ball from oncoming defenders, until the other lads get time to run into their positions alongside him. I don’t think Wayne and Berba have any kind of understanding, but you see that Berba/Giggsy do seem to be on the same wave length. It happens like that, partnerships just click. I just can’t see Wayne and Berba being on the same wavelength, but I hope I am wrong. Berba is THE PLAYMAKER though, together with Giggsy who is also able to do that Role.

  22. Baum Marten says:

    He is great and they should love him! He is working hard for the team and has awesome technique!

  23. ozzmufc says:

    damn right, anyone who says that berba is a poor lazy player doesnt know a good footballer when they see one.
    when berba came on for owen on wednesday the game changed massivly.

  24. kel says:

    @manutdchampions2008 do agree with you however, if it is a flop so be it. Who knows it will be? Let the time do the talking. For now we just support them and let them feel at home and that is what fans can do. The rest is all to them. We are in for a transition period where giggs, scholes, neville is going to retired. I bet we will find some players in the next few seasons. Right now we don’t have much people to look for.

    @Isaidso Yeah. Sometimes fans might be wrong. If we can support the players all the time at least we can say it proudly if he became a great player. Even if he can’t become a great player, at least we show our support to them.

  25. redscot says:

    It certainly raises debate Dear Dimatar, I have my own views and shall remain silent, take the loss if you see a better player for the price because of non United fans and the media have created, in bringing down one of the best and skilled players we have seen, ok.Dont forget its a knock at Manchester United, and poke at Sir Alex, in whom I trust in choice of most players he signs.


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