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United ‘Decline’ Prevented Berbatov’s Move

Dimitar Berbatov does not cut a happy figure at the moment, entirely frustrated that his desired to move to United has become so difficult. Far too often the word ‘saga’ is involved with United in the transfer market, from John Obi Mikel to Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves to Cristiano Ronaldo. It would be nice if we could just resolve things nicely, but with the Premier League case regarding our supposed tapping-up ongoing, it appears as though the ‘Berbatov saga’ will rumble on.

Last month, I reflected on how Berbatov has already had the opportunity to join United, but turned us down. Whilst United were still resolving the transfer of Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid, Berbatov felt like he couldn’t wait for United, so chose a move to Tottenham Hotspur instead.

Whilst looking for any updates on the Berbatov situation, I stumbled across an article in The Telgraph which serves as a reminder of how the country saw United two years ago.

United had just finished the season 2nd behind Chelsea, winning the League Cup to put in the trophy cabinet which had been empty the year before. The media decided that United were in decline because of this and wrote us off.

When Berbatov signed for Spurs, nobody envisaged that United would go on to win the league that season. We had sold Ruud, bringing in no replacement, whilst Chelsea had signed Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko, adding to their Premiership winning squad. So, certainly nobody saw us winning it consecutively as well as beating Chelsea in the European Cup final. Which is where The Telegraph article comes in to play. It’s fairly amusing to read through these damning reports, knowing now just how wrong these journalists were.

It says as much about Tottenham Hotspur’s ascent in the Premiership hierarchy as it does about Manchester United’s relative decline that Dimitar Berbatov has revealed he chose White Hart Lane above Old Trafford this summer.

United’s procrastination has cost them another gifted player. While Berbatov is not in the same league as Ronaldinho, Arjen Robben or Michael Ballack, it has become a worrying trend for United to miss out on signings due to the way they conduct their business. Of course, they took Tottenham’s Michael Carrick up to Old Trafford for an initial fee of £14m last week, but it looked like business conducted with backs to the wall.

With the Premiership’s opening day fast approaching, their squad still looks shallow in midfield and attack. Berbatov revealed that United had only spoken to him at the end of the season. By that time Tottenham had already had Berbatov as a guest at White Hart Lane when he met Martin Jol.

Isn’t hindsight brilliant…

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. SINGH says:


  2. Craig Mc says:

    You know what, if truth be known, the middle comments by the journalist are true. United are NOTORIOUSLY slow and dilitary at bringing transfers to a conclusion. Apart from beginning of last season, when they were out the gate like a bat out of hell to sign Nani and Anderson. Tev and Hargo were saga’s of the highest degree. We have missed out on top players because of messing about, Ronaldinho himself admits that he was ready to come to United before Barca, but United dallied about the finance the selling club were asking and lost out to Barca. Recent example of our sloppiness, was the Ramsey case, where we were ahead, but let Wenger jump in before us. I am United thru and thru, home and away, but I get totally pissed with the way we go about our business, or more appropriately don’t go about it. I have to ask myself, and so should some of you, whether we got Ronaldo, Nani and Andie, because our Portuguese asst manager was very involved in the negotiations.

  3. Primachenko says:

    craig mc,

    some truth in that mate.

  4. spindle says:

    NObody is perfect. So perhaps they have made mistakes but We are Champions of Europe again and EPL champions two years running. I think we have gone about our business very well !!!
    There is always room for improvement and berbatov will do that if he comes.
    I’m sure Fergie doesn’t like missing out on players for the sake of a few £M; but this is big money and when you look at what UTD’s operating profit was last year, £66M, there isn’t much room to manoeuvre. None of know what goes on behind close doors so I reserve my judgement.

  5. Craig Mc says:

    Spindle, its the dawdling that causes the transfer fee to spiral mate. I mean most teams know that United are desperate for a striker. The longer we have left it without doing the business, and the closer the deadline comes transfer season ending, the HIGHER the price negotiating teams can demand. That makes dithering about instead of getting things sorted, a very costly business in the end. Spurs are businessmen, they are never going to give us any player for less than top dollar. Surely we learnt that from the Carrick transfer. Anyway, for sure, I would rather not have Berbatov than pay 30+ million for him.

  6. austin says:

    we want players that want to play for us. ramsey sounds like a plastic red to me. it may seem arrogant or appear sluggish and wasteful but it isnt. its for the best. if we want a player and they want to join us, above anybody else, then this is good for us.
    those of you that still read too much into what you read, and STILL doubt the great man after all hes done, need to give your heads a wobble!

  7. denton davey says:

    Craig McC – are UTD really “desperate for a striker” ? I would be inclined to agree with you IF the same team had won back-to-back EPL titles and then demolished the opposition on the road to the CL final. Sure, SAF would like to add a striker but I don’t think he’s “desperate” – especially one who could buy himself out of his contract next summer. And, don’t forget, Berbatov has to be his second choice – behind Benzema about whom “desperation” migh be a very good way of describing the GovanGuv’nor’s state of mind. Lets get some perspective on this situation – Rooney is supposed to be match-fit to play the bar-codes and the first few matches are equally “challenging”. Of course, there’s a patch when TheLads have to play the Arse and the RentBoyz back-to-back – and away – but I would think that in that situation if anything/anyone would make SAF desperate it would be Ronaldo edging into game shape. Signing Berbatov is essentially insurance – to provide a quality option to allow for an unforeseen injury to Rooney, Tevez, or Ronaldo. He’s not the key to the ability of this team to compete.

  8. pdm says:

    we didnt sign ramsey because he’s not that good. we’d take him on the cheap and see what would become of him but basically he was a good footballer, played on the wing of a small club, and has a lot to do to make it. He even knew it himself so he went to arsenal where to be fair players do improve (except of course if arsne breaks a record for them)!

  9. John Tring says:

    Yes , Utd seem to play brinkmanship. Last season, Arsenal’s implosion mitigated our disastrous start but this time around, Chelski will be a different animal. We must start as good as or better than them. And that means at least 1 top striker. CR can’t be expected to score 42 again. Not sure what SAF is thinking but a repeat of 2000 will be a tragedy. If you wish to add quality, do so ASAP to have time to gel. No Berba, no pblm. Let Levy keep him. Sign Huntelaar immediately. Just act and not wait.

  10. Craig Mc says:

    John Tring, a man after my own heart re United. I couldn’t have put it better myself. I believe you understand the situation perfectly.

    Denton Davey – yes mate IMO we do need another quality striker, and have done for over 18 months now. We have been fortunate that Ronnie stayed fit for us all season, although we are told now he suffered because of that, with his ankle problem. He played thru the pain, not everybody would. If we had another great striker, Ronnie could have been rested more instead of playing nearly every match. United legends of Old, line up on MUTV for a long time now, all saying the same thing, we need another striker and NOW!. I’m not saying Berba is the answer, I don’t know. I do know that with Ronnie out, we lose an awful lot of our goals, and he is not just going to come back in after 2 months out and be expected to perform at the same level straight away. If Saha was fit, great, but he seldom is.

  11. Scott the Red says:

    Ronaldo is out until October. At the start of October last season, he’d scored just 1 league goal. This season he’ll more drive and determination than ever before to get fit and prove himself. Afterall, it’ll be sections of his own fans who could be responded negatively to him next season, not just the opposition!

    Any decrease in form from him surely will be matched by improving form in Tevez, Rooney, Nani etc.

    Don’t forget we had a goal difference better by 19 last season. Drogba doesn’t give a shit less about Chelsea, Anelka hasn’t been able to cut it so far… where are Chelsea‘s goals coming from? If people believe United desperately need another striker, is it because you think Drogba/Anelka/Shevchenko/Kalou/Pizarro are better options than Rooney/Tevez/Ronaldo/Nani? I know which group of players I’d prefer!

  12. Stephen says:

    Scott, it would just be nice to have a bit more of a target, they are all great players but we could do with a bits and pieces striker, especially if a goal down and we need a bit more height in the box, or a cross gets flashed acrosss the 6 yard box.

  13. austin says:

    as for getting huntelaar instead of berba to save time. thats no reason to give up. if u want a player, and they want us we have to get him. fergie clearly rates berba above anyone else realistically available, and i couldnt agree more. if spurs, just like ever other team want to play hardball, we just have to play the game. some you win , some you lose. but going for second best when ur english and european champs, and arguably the biggest club in football is not good enough for me, and im so glad fergie thinks the same. no one will complain about the extra 5-10 million when the trophies roll in. i cant see what were doing wrong!

  14. Jimmybob says:

    Ramsey is living in the same appartment block as his welsh team mate bale and his best mate from cardiff cardiff and wales gunther that proably helped swing it for him as did the fact untd were willing to loan him back to the bluebirds because he would not only be behind the 1st teamers scholes carrick and hargreaves but another youngster in anderson and proably squad players like fletcher.

    It won’t be long before he goes the way of sidwell pennant and hoyte talented british youngsters who didn;t make it under wenger.

    Berba may have picked spurs but he must be gutted he did, 2 pl and a cl in the last 2 years as opposed to a lge cup win, lets just hope we get him and we keep winning trophies

  15. denton davey says:

    Craig McC – “desperate need” is not exactly the way I would define recruiting a backup, who would be signed for thirty million quid so that there could be insurance IF one of the front three of Rooney, Tevez, or Ronaldo got themselves crocked.

    My position on this is that it would be nice to sign Berbatov but hardly necessary – he would provide an alternative to the bob-and-weave, whirligig style that landed back-to-back EPL titles and last year’s CL title. But would he be among the first choice selections in the event that all of Nani, Giggs, Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo, Frazier Campbell, Saha (?), and Ji-Sung Park were healthy and raring to go ? If so, how would UTD set up their stall – 4-1-5-0, like Roma ?

    I’m still of the opinion that what this squad needs is a monster in the middle – like Big Dunc was for Everton or Jan Koller could be. Before you shit yourself, let me review my logic on that one: in most games – the Charity Shield was an excellent example – UTD keep the ball and have the majority of chances BUT in this kind of game if the chances are spurned then there’s a great chance of losing two points with a draw or even three points if the opposition gets one of those lucky deflections like Geovani did last year at ManShitty.

    These things happen with an almost predictable regularity in a handful of games against the DeadMenWalking of the EPL who somehow raise their game against UTD. The opposition isn’t going to do anything other than station all eleven of their team inside the penalty area so it’s for just those circumstances that a man-monster is needed to lend an alternative strategy in attacking a packed box. I suppose that a somewhat different “alternative” might be bringing both Rio and Vidic forward and then bringing on someone like Mickey Silvestre or Johnny O’Shea to play alongside Wesley and Evra/Neville in a back three that would be stationed inside the opposition’s half.

    Last year Carlos Tevez scored three times in these fraught situations – against Blackburn, Lyon, and Spurs – and Ronaldo famously won a game against Fulham with a long run/shot but over the past several years these situations have been very difficult for UTD to master with their conventional attacking game. And, that’s why the man-monster alternative seems to me to be the “desperate need” – I don’t think that thirty million quid for Dimitar Berbatov would exactly be spent to fill the role of a situational substitution.

    Back to you, mate.


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