Friday, January 02, 2009

Berbatov the enigma, Fergie and the role of Tevez...

Having seen so many strikers' with hitherto big reputations sign for United and then go on to fail to impress, I like many other Reds' have some concerns over Dimitar Berbatov following his performances for the Champions since he put pen to paper at the end of August.

In terms of goals, so far the former Spurs striker has notched just seven. United fans of my age will recall that it took Gary Birtles a full season to score his first league goal when he signed back in 1980 - now that is a record that no big name striker would want. Birtles eventually scored just 12 goals before he was sold back to his former club Nott's Forest for a knockdown fee.

Although Berbatov hasn't so far managed to meet the fans' huge expectations since his big money move to United, he has made a vital contribution in the Reds' last two fixtures. Against Stoke City on Boxing Day the Bulgarian came off the bench to lay on the only goal of the game for Carlos Tevez, then against Boro he scored a vital match-winner which kept the Champions title hopes alive.

In United's last two Premier League games, while the Bulgarian has been instrumental when making vital contributions at the same time questions have been raised about his lack of involvement, especially against Boro.

There can be little doubt that Ferguson will be both delighted and yet perplexed about the dilemma he faces with Berbatov, because the manager has other options at his disposal, namely Carlos Tevez. The Argentine has yet to agree a permanent contract with the club and so it was reassuring to see fresh quotes attributed to Tevez confirming his commitment to stay at United - if only a deal can be agreed soon.

Even though United have managed to win by the narrow margin of just one goal in their last couple of games, it is to hoped that Fergie has learnt something about the roles of both Tevez and Berbatov. Because as we saw against Stoke City, Berbatov can make a difference when coming on as a substitute and just perhaps this could in part be the key to yet more glory in the current campaign.

Striker rotation saw United lift that historic treble in 1999, but back then Fergie has four top stars to choose from, now he has just three. In theory at least anyway, keeping three stikers' happy shouldn't be that difficult, but given the galaxy of star names as his disposal, selection issues are rarely easy for Ferguson. Tevez, in the view of many supporters that I have spoken to, has been particularly unlucky in this respect and just maybe we will see more of the former West Ham star in the second-half of the season in which hopefully the Argentine and Bulgarian will play vital roles in helping the Champions retain the title and helping themselves to yet more trophies.


  1. why cant we play tevez in the exact position that park plays (and instead of him)? every body has to put the shift in at united .. rooney did it for long enough and in fairness tevez has often played wide on the left.

  2. Peader,

    IF you've been reading this blog on a regular basis, you know that I've been saying that Tevez can do the same job for the team as Park, only the Argentine will do it more effectively... Park is a trier, Tevez is a class act and it's really baffling as to why this hasn't yet happened.

    I can only put it down to internal politics because IMO United are trying to negotiate down the Tevez fee and by giving him less games this might in turn be viewed as effectively lowering his valuation/worth to the team.


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