After spending the first two years of his Manchester United career being criticised by large sections of our support, Dimitar Berbatov has shone this year. He was the first Premier League striker to ten goals, then the first to twenty goals and with three games left to go, he is still the league’s top scorer.
However, this sadly still wasn’t good enough for some reds. After scoring three hattricks this season, the criticism levelled at him was his distribution of goals was poor. Whilst plenty of reds who used to slag him off have welcomed this turnaround in Berba, some reds bizarrely seem to want to find something to criticise him for.
Whilst I have always defended Berbatov, it would be unfair to claim I think he is the perfect player and has no faults. When he has a bad game I will say so and whilst he is immensely talented, he didn’t score the number of goals we would have expected from a £30m striker in his first two seasons. This season he has scored 21 goals in 30 appearances and I can’t get my head around United fans who would want to try and pick holes in that achievement.
Regardless, so this myth doesn’t keep getting pushed about, that Berba isn’t scoring in enough games, I’ve had a look at the stats. I felt it was important to take in to consideration the fact that Berba isn’t the club’s penalty taker whilst some of the other players who feature in the top scorers are. This isn’t the be all and end all though and I haven’t discounted the goals scored from the penalty spot by other strikers, as they still had to score it.
The table below shows how many goals the top five scorers have, how many goals they have scored if you take away the penalties they’ve scored, how many different games they’ve scored in if you take away the penalties they’ve scored, and how many different games they’ve scored in when you include those where they have scored penalties.
As you can see, there’s nothing in it. When you compare all strikers without the penalties they’ve scored, none of them have scored in more games than Berba. But for argument’s sake, even when the penalties are included, there’s not enough difference between Berba and any other player to make an issue of it.
So yes, in an ideal world, those 21 goals could have been distributed more evenly over his other appearances, but he’s scored in a comparable number of games as all the other top strikers, but he’s just happened to score more goals in those games than anyone else.
I’ve included Chicharito, despite him being the 8th highest scorer in the league, just out of interest. His stats help explain why he has been used as first choice over recent weeks.