When it comes to judging the innate talent of a footballer, I would not claim to be anywhere as insightful as Alex Ferguson. Also, I acknowledge that he probably watches a bit more of Manchester United than I do – even though they are top choice on every week’s Match of the Day, he probably picks up the odd thing I miss.
But even taking all of that into consideration, I have to ask what the hell he was thinking, first to pay over £30m for Dimitar Berbatov, and then to continue to pick him despite all the visible evidence pointing to the fact he is completely rubbish.
In last night’s Champions’ League Came on in the second half and proceeded to spray passes in every direction, over the shoulders of his team mates and into touch.
I know that, in this post-Emile Heskey world, it is no longer necessary for a striker to actually score goals in order to “make a contribution.” There is much talk these days of what a player does “off the ball,” of “telling runs,” and of their “bringing something extra to the camp.”
However, in Berbatov’s case, not only is he rubbish at actually kicking a football but he has the work rate of a student with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is unfortunate for him that he is in direct comparison with Carlos Tevez, a man who makes the Tasmanian Devil look laid back, but even if you look at him with independent eyes, Berbatov is a lazy bastard.
I don’t know if looking like Ray Reardon and wearing a shoelace round your head really cuts it as “bringing something extra to the camp,” but I suspect he will be quietly sold at some point in the next twelve months and forgotten about along with Kleberson, Quinton Fortune and William Prunier – other players who the High Priest of Old Trafford bought and regretted, and yet never gets criticised. It’s almost as if the media are intimidated by him…
A hero in Bulgaria, Berbatov signed for German club Bayer Leverkusen in 2001 where he established himself, appearing in a Champions League final. He then made what has often proved to be a suicidal career move and entered the Tottenham Talent Vacuum. As he was rotated with Robbie Keane, Jermaine Defoe and, believe it or not, Darren Bent, he scored some spectacular goals, but always gave this impression of just going through the motions.
In the Summer of 2008, a nation gasped as it emerged that the mighty Manchester United wanted to sign him, despite him being almost the polar opposite of the typical Ferguson player. Tottenham spent the entire Summer coyly horse-trading before securing a deadline-day deal worth a jaw-dropping £30.75m. It was too late for Spurs to buy a replacement, and their rotten start to the season cost the hapless Juande Ramos his job, but I can’t believe that United have got value for money there either. He is just one of those players I have never ever seen have a good game – I know there must be something there, but I just don’t see it.
It’s not Dimitar Berbatov’s fault that Manchester United lost the Champions’ League final last night. Actually, it was Andres Iniesta’s fault as he was amazing in the middle of the field for Barcelona, but that does not detract from the fact that Berbatov must be the ludicrously overpriced buy of the season.