The Mythology Of Berbatov: The Smoke & Mirrors Of MUFC Fans

So yeah, he has finally gone. The smooth Bulgarian with the touch of an experienced lothario. The love of many a United fan’s life.

Dimitar Berbatov is a footballer of undoubted quality. I have little doubt he will be a raging success at Fulham. The player always said the right things in the press about United. His monotone look, that poker playing face…never gave away any displeasure of sitting on the bench. The manager waxed lyrical about him, even when it was clear that Danny Welbeck was the future of the club. Overall….it is all just really….nice.


So now Berba’s finally had a bit of a gob off, as many of us expected. Was it an attack on United and Fergie? No…not at all. But I think he feels this is the time to show how vexed he is at a situation that in honesty, he perpetrated.

There is a myth going around that Dimitar Berbatov was treated poorly by Sir Alex and Manchester United. This myth is being fuelled by United fans who cannot stand to see their idol gone, the player they worshipped…the ‘anti-Tevez’ of sorts.

The mythology goes: Berbatov is/was a genius. He never let United down. Rarely played poorly and it was more Michael Carrick’s fault (or any other MUFC scapegoat) That he loved United with such a passion that he would die for the shirt….etc etc etc.

All of this concerns me.

In an abstract way it reminds me of the time when Kurt Cobain died. The Nirvana godhead had a couple of top class albums under his belt and represented a cult following of those that worshipped at the altar of Grunge. I liked Nirvana as well, though Indie and House were more my bag. The day Cobain blew his brains out I had a conversation with a mate about it all. The conclusion we made was that the man, the singer, the songwriter would now pass into a future mythology. That Nirvana now had no chance to make a bad album. That Cobain couldn’t be ridiculed in any future altercation of madness or drugs. That the bad stuff would be put in the cupboard and forgotten.  That his place in the halls of history and memory was now ‘safe’. And for all intent and purposes this is what has happened. Cobain remains more worshipped now than he was even 18 years ago when he died…

And I feel this is how United fans will come to remember Berbatov in the future…because it is already happening.

Dimitar and his fans need to understand why he didn’t play last season, and why he has been sold. I’m hearing alot about ‘fairness’…about how we kept him with a cacophony of lies and spin…about how we ‘should have set him free’…like he’s a f@cking rare mountain lion. It is all too odd beyond words!

Unfortunately, Berbatov didn’t do enough to earn his place…when everyone was fit. He didn’t play to the standard that we needed week in and week out. Yes, he could do things that others couldnt…but he also did quite a few things that made him lose his place. The times Sir Alex defended him after a poor game, telling the world how balanced and experienced he was, and how good he was for the younger players. Yet now the myth dictates that Sir Alex treated him badly.

I have written several Berbatov specific articles over the years, which has led for many of Twitter’s GGMU crowd to go berserk and call me ‘a Berbahater’ or whatever their hashtag is that day. I try to just write and call it how i see it, whether im blogging here or writing articles for other publications or newspapers. I called for United to sell Berbatov last summer, on the grounds that Rooney and Chicharito should be given the starting berths, and that Berba was not the right type of impact player to have on the bench. As it turns out Welbeck leaped ahead of Chico, and made it even harder for Dimi to feature.

This was all unfortunate for Berbatov…but nothing more. The outpouring of sympathy for the man has been almost biblical. Fans will not quantify why he deserved to start ahead of the other three main strikers…but God they were going to moan about it anyhow! Now fans debate that we should have let him go a year ago because we kept him under some kind of house arrest. But football is a squad game. Last season he was needed in the manager’s mind. Had he got in and showed that he was willing to up the workrate, and develop his style to compliment that of the team…there’s every chance he would have played alot more. But he didn’t. And therefore he didn’t play. Had Rooney and Welbeck got long-term injuries, he would be picked for sure…so lets steer away from this trash of promises of first team starts. You earn your starting place. You are not handed it on a plate.

As much as I often admired Berba’s skills and goals for us there were two parts of his game that used to drive me mad. The first was the obvious one…the static nature of his play. This is an old debate. Some will point to stats telling us just how far he would travel in every match…but the eyes don’t lie! Too many times id be sat on my seat at Old Trafford just watching him. Motionless on the half way line, never really looking for space on the break. Would Tevez do the same when in a United shirt? No…he would be on the move. He would be giving the oppositions defence something to track. Berba either didn’t want to do this…or just couldn’t do this. I have come to the conclusion that it is the former.

The other part that would annoy me is…and wait for it…this is where the GGMUs go crazy…that he appeared to be a negative influence on other team mates on the pitch at certain times. To quantify, some of the exchanges he would have on the pitch off the ball left me scratching a proverbial itch. This is a personal observation for me. I remember him constantly bitching at a Rafael or Welbeck or whoever, for not delivering the perfect ball to his feet…for not making the perfect run for him to pass the ball to them. I generally have no problem with senior players doing this…AS LONG AS YOU MAKE THOSE RUNS AS WELL! I don’t think this was ever documented by many, but we would often comment on it in the stands. I do not think this was lost on Fergie. I think it is one of the reasons why Dimi lost his place quicker than some anticipated. You can only tolerate for so long an alpha male striker standing in the center circle, hand on hips, gesturing and whinging…when he isn’t exactly putting in a shift himself!

These comments will upset some United fans…but it’s tough. It is the inconvenient truth. He was far from the perfect footballer he is made out to be…otherwise we would have kept him.

Ultimately, I have no huge issue with Berba…but the man is no Cantona. He is not even a Wayne Rooney. As far as his £32 million transfer fee goes and the £20 million in wages he took home in four years, was he a great transfer in the end? No. But with a strike rate of just worse than 1 in 2…he was hardly a failure. Some sections of the fanbase may wish to remember the highlights reel of Dimitar’s time with us…and that is fine. But I hope he doesn’t end up with the eulogy of player who did no wrong and was made a martyr by the ruthless nature of hurricane Ferguson…

Because simply put…that would be a lie.

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About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.


  1. Think the real question is why did we sign him to start with . Im a Berba supporter .However ,i knew he had to leave .

  2. Thank you for summing up perfectly my feelings towards Berbatov.

    Indeed he had moments of genius but they were often sandwiched deeply in moments of poor football and constant bitching at fellow players for not playing his way. One of my biggest gripes about him is the said bitching, few noticed it until i pointed it out to them then it’s all they could see.

    He wasn’t a failure but he certainly wasn’t some DemiGod as many would have him.

  3. Good article, I’ve always thought about it myself, Michael Owen spoke well about United and conducted Himself professionally too but His Scouse roots meant they never took to Him. That’s the fan for You. All the best to Berba but life goes on

  4. Great article. You could say you just opened one of the GGMU fans’ eyes on this issue. I agree with almost all of it I suppose, but I was too much under Berbatov’s ‘gentleman’ spell to wonder about it before now. He did have his drawbacks and he did have a few great moments but other than that he was never the guy United needed… so hope he does well at Fulham.

  5. Spot on… He simply wasn’t a man united kind of player, ℓ̊ think Fergie realised it too late and ultimately didn’t know what to do with him

    But Fergie’s error was simply the mistake of not getting rid of him in time. Great article

  6. Rob,

    You retweeted somebody saying “Berba could have just kept quiet” earlier today.

    I think the same could be said about you. You could have also just kept quiet, but you didn’t because you were driven by an inner urge – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    But if you are allowed to voice your feelings, why wouldn’t you allow Dimitar Berbatov to voice his?

    At the end of the day, none of us really know what conversations took place between Sir Alex and Dimitar. So we don’t really know what the actual source of his loss of respect for Sir Alex is. Naturally people will voice their opinions based on their allegiances – which renders a sometimes fun but meaningless debate at the end of the day.

    People will always speak – just as you do. I enjoy reading your articles and tweets. I always find your thoughts very original. But I’m afraid this article is a little tasteless for me because you’re perpetuating precisely what you despise about the people going overboard about their affection for Berba.

    In response you’re doing precisely the same thing in reverse by going overboard in your attempts to belittle his contribution to the club and your support for Sir Alex. As a result it smacks of hypocrisy!

    At the end the day people will speak. Allow them to…

  7. The author is the quintessential idiot whose picture should be posted under the term ‘brain dead’. That or he’s indulging in some major hallucinogenic drug use.

    I don’t know what was more laughable amongst the many pearls of wisdom thrown up by this twit. That Berbatov is not even a Wayne Rooney, for which we should all be eternally grateful? That he can question Berbatov’s pace yet throw a snail such as Tevez into the equation? Or that the Bulgarian was a negative influence on the pitch? Rarely has such a mish mash of inaccuracy and utter hypocrisy been thrown into the melting pot of pseudo sports journalism, and that’s saying something in this day and age where media standards have sunk to an all time low as many seek to cut costs by giving morons like this guy the opportunity to have their 15 seconds of fame in return for providing third rate free copy.

    To say Rooney isn’t even in the same class as Berbatov would be to insult all the other footballers in between who bear closer comparison to the Bulgarian than that overhyped piece of crap from Liverpool. The only people who think highly of Rooney are the meat and potatoes (or should I say fish and chip?) brigade for whom bash and barge football is the only brand of the sport they can comprehend. Anything that even remotely represents an intellectual exercise on the pitch proves far too taxing for their limited powers to comprehend and unfortunately, United’s success over the years has attracted many of these idiotic bandwagon supporters who climb on board for the glory ride yet know next to nothing about football, let alone genuine team loyalty.

    Wayne Rooney is a talentless waste of space who has never come close to living up to the potential he showed as a precocious teenager, but then few do – look at the disaster that is Ravel Morrison. Unfortunately Rooney happens to be English, which means multiple generations of English supporters, desperate for some kind of savior to come along and raise English football back to the lofty standards expected of the game’s creators, have not only been ever-ready to thrust the emperor’s cloths back on to their next anointed hero, but also ready to play the willing dupes blindly screaming “oh what a wonderful suit of clothing you are wearing today!”

    Rooney’s flaws as a player – and they are many – have perennially been swept under the carpet with the same alacrity that his vast array of personal flaws have been glossed over by both the club and fan base. His heart and hustle, as often a liability as they are a boon, are mistakenly viewed as class – yet these are the only strings he essentially has to his bow. His once vaunted pace was a third component, but it has dissipated away with each passing year and his lack of focus on conditioning to a point where most defenders can easily run him down on the break – those championing his cause have quietly overlooked that salient point while lambasting Berbatov for his own apparent lack of speed. Yet this is the same Bulgarian from only two seasons ago who started off a move deep in his own territory against Liverpool (gee, what was Berbatov doing in defense when he apparently never helps out in that area?) found his way through a bunch of defenders after lacing a sublime pass to an open team mate, and sprinted the rest of the way up the pitch to finish off a superb series of movements with a scintillating goal.

    Rooney’s flaws? He can’t beat anyone except his grandmother one-on-one to save his life, which makes him an extremely limited forward, especially when the package is further hampered by his lousy passing ability and atrocious vision and situational awareness – Helen Keller would have a better idea of where team mates are at any given moment. There are generally only two outcomes one can bank on when Rooney has the ball whilst approaching the defending team in their own third of the pitch. The first is that Rooney will try and lamely take on the solitary defender opponents know is all that’s necessary against him, with the expected outcome being that he’ll be readily dispossessed and hand the other team a golden opportunity to catch United on a quick counter-attack. He can also be generally be relied upon under such circumstances to hand the other team a free kick via one of his typically stupid and petulant fouls handed out to any player with the temerity to take the ball away from God’s gift to United. The other outcome, far more typical in recent years, is for Rooney to back off the instant a defender even remotely approaches him and pass the ball away laterally or backwards. For this spineless acknowledgement of his weaknesses he’s lauded by his defenders as a team orchestrator, an on field general pulling the strings Scholes-like in attack. Never mind that he rarely does anything of significance with the ball when he’s forced into passing it away – on the few occasions he actually does try and make an incisive pass forward he can generally be relied upon to screw it up and hand the ball over to the opponent. He and the latter day Ryan Giggs would be neck and neck regarding which of the two is the greater wastrel of possession.

    For those who wish to indignantly hoist up his goal tally from last season, I can point to four things. Firstly, take out his efforts from dead ball situations and his goals to minutes ratio is abysmal, especially for a supposed star striker playing up front for one of the best teams in the league. Secondly, go back over the goals and note how many were virtually handed to him on a plate by the likes of Nani, Valencia, Young, Scholes, etc. Thirdly, ask yourself how many goals Rooney actually made for himself from general play, rather than relying upon the talents of others. Lastly, check back over his tally to find out how often he went missing in games involving major opponents at home and abroad – he’s football’s equivalent of the flat track bully.

    In general his touch is abysmal, and his ability to even adequately trap a mildly delivered cross is third rate. In a game where split seconds make all the difference, he loses so much time with his heavy-footed control of the ball that Rooney ends up ruining opportunity after opportunity – that or he ends up rushing his decisions or goal attempts.

    Rooney’s shooting ability is just about as poor as the rest of his game. Unless the ball is handed to him within ten yards of the goal it becomes a matter for the national lottery regarding whether the ball will sail even remotely towards the net or not. His favoured shot from longer range, at least in recent seasons, has been the blast into the stratosphere – it’s become his signature shot from 20 yards out or further – he even gave us an example of it last year from the penalty spot.

    As for his much vaunted defense – please! Rooney in defense is just as liable to hand the ball back to the opposition in heart-stopping manner as he is to clear it out of the area. That’s if he’s not giving away a free kick or handing the opposition a clear goal-scoring opportunity, as he did a couple of seasons ago in a manner that lost the game for the team. Same goes for his supposed metronomic running up and down the pitch for king and country, giving his all for the cause. Focus on Rooney throughout any typical match and the team’s energizer bunny takes a surprising amount of plodding breaks while the action is going on around him, even standing stock still on occasion with hands on hips, so the author might care to review his vilification of Berbatov on that score when his own knight in shining armour isn’t exactly the non-stop locomotive so many like to characterize him as, particularly given how poor his conditioning usually is.

    Know how much of a liability Rooney is in front of goal, and why United felt it needed other options after Fergie’s thinly veiled reference to wasted opportunities and how dominance wasn’t being translated into goals? So far in this fledgling season, Van Persie has slotted in three goals that would have been considerably beyond Rooney’s extremely limited abilities in front of goal. Note the sublime manner in which the Dutchman slotted in his first goal for United with an assured one-touch performance Rooney could only dream of. Then consider the lovely way he chested down and thumped in his first effort against Southampton with complete composure and not a hint of indecision. Then glance at the highlight reel to note with what total control he directed the ball into the net with his superbly taken header. Every single one of these efforts was slotted in without a hint of luck involved. For Rooney, every one of these goals would have been a hit or miss affair that would have involved far less technique and much more arse than anything else.

    There was a reason behind Van Persie’s acquisition, and it goes beyond the kneejerk reaction of a manager who’s clearly showing signs of his age and is making the same mistakes Matt Busby made towards the end of his tenure at United, namely to look more towards his own legacy rather than the future of the team. Make no mistake, Ferguson knows that the late season debacle that cost United so dearly last time around could have represented United’s last decent shot at a title before he retires, and belatedly he’s perhaps realized Rooney’s limitations and how they affect the team. His response? To throw out his promises from only a few years ago (when he acquired Berbatov ironically enough) to never again squander vast amounts of money on aging players with no sell-on value, because he wants a quick fix and instant gratification to go out on – never mind the flow on effects to the next manager. Van Persie was largely acquired because of Rooney’s inadequacies as a solo striker, a role that United’s become increasingly reliant upon due to the weaknesses in midfield and the need to shore up the area with an extra body. Rooney has neither the physique, strength, skills, speed nor the football intellect (read Drogba) to function well up front on his own, whereas Van Persie fulfills most of the requirements and is infinitely better in the role than the Englishman. In the major EPL games and in Europe, Van Persie will be the man patrolling the forward line on his own, while Rooney will either sit on the bench or (mistakenly) get placed out on the wing. Only in 4-4-2 variants will Rooney get a look-in, and hopefully Van Persie will play well enough that people may finally see what they’ve been missing with Rooney.

    With all that said and done though, Rooney’s biggest weakness is the general manner in which the sum of all his deficiencies have made him the team anchor in terms of dragging United down and leeching off the talents of all those around him, especially his strike partners. Great players, as exemplified by the likes of Johann Cruyff, make those around them better. Rooney is the anti-Cruyff, an individual who sucks out the very best of everyone around him and leaves them looking the lesser for his leech-like efforts. How many strike partners have bitten the dust for United and England thanks to Rooney’s near legendary inability to mesh with virtually every forward partner given him? A dozen or so? Yet with the same characteristic head-in-the-sand attitude he’s shown towards Rooney’s personal shenanigans, Ferguson has steadfastly refused to fault Rooney and constantly buried the knife into everyone else who’s had the misfortune to partner the scouse nitwit up front, with Berbatov probably being the standout example of the staggering double standards applied at United where Rooney is concerned.

    Recall how the author stated that Berbatov was a distraction and a negative influence on the pitch? Funny, isn’t it, how Berbatov’s occasional and mild exasperation with the lesser talents on the team are construed as negative and petulant, while Rooney’s far more frequent outbursts of anger and arm-waving frustration with team mates is virtually lauded as signs of his indomitable will to win, his combativeness, his on field leadership? Never mind the other less savory aspects to his temper, such as the numerous occasions both United and England have suffered for displays of temper that have elicited red cards and suspensions.

    As for undermining the team, need we recall Rooney’s stellar 2010-2011 season, when dear old Wayne held United to ransom with his deplorable demands and petulant behavior? Or the disgusting manner in which he played the field with high profile prostitutes while his pregnant wife sat at home – that really reflected well on the team didn’t it, especially when Fergie, as per usual where Rooney’s concerned, decided to look the other way? What of the wonderful example he set to children watching the game when he decided to vent his expletive-laden spleen at a sideline camera after finally putting the ball in the net for United, which of course resulted in a costly suspension? Or the manner in which he topped off the season by getting involved in a childish slanging match on Twitter?

    But what really stood out during that tumultuous season was the crystal-clear fact that Fergie, the hard-nosed Scot who’s legendary testy demeanor would brook no insubordination from the ranks, caved in completely to Rooney’s behavior and drew up a completely different set of rules to be applied to the Liverpudlian wonder, no doubt fueled by his increasing desire to pad out his CV with more trophies prior to retiring – in this again he travelled down the same road as Sir Matt, who allowed party boy George Best to play by a totally different set of rules near the end of his career at United. Rooney played through the first half of the season in the poorest form of his career at United and couldn’t buy a goal to save his life, yet short of murdering Fergie’s grandchildren seemed incapable of doing anything to earn the manager’s disfavour. Yet during a season when Berbatov finally found himself released from the straightjacket that his career at United had become, going on a scoring spree that was highlighted by his hat trick against the old enemy, Liverpool, and what should have been the goal of the season, he found himself mysteriously thrust to the sidelines by a manager who had the gall and utter hypocrisy to claim the decision was based ‘on form’. Really? So how did the lame duck from Liverpool keep getting game after game, for month after atrocious month, when he was the team’s number one liability on the pitch and couldn’t get a goal to save his life? In a sad irony, it was in fact red hot Berbatov who unselfishly gifted Rooney a goal to help his confidence at a time when it clearly needed boosting. Soon after, the Bulgarian got his just deserts for being so generous by being given the pink slip from the starting eleven. By season’s end, the team’s leading scorer even had to suffer the ignominy of being completely dropped from the team for the Champions League final in favour of – wait for it – Michael Owen.

    Clearly, Berbatov was never the right fit for United, but it was certainly not the Bulgarian’s fault. The man was the complete package when he came to United, not some tyro waiting to have his talents developed, thus team management should have been well aware of what they were buying into when they chose to wrest him away from Tottenham in such acrimonious circumstances. Berbatov epitomized European football at its finest, a game of finesse and exquisite skill, of mental acuity and vision, of possession play and situational awareness. For every team he’s played for other than United, the Bulgarian has been a star player, a team fulcrum who’s brought out the best in lesser players and made them seem world class, none more so than Robbie Keane.

    So why didn’t his time at United work out as well as it should have? Two reasons – Ferguson and Rooney. The manager, having seen United essentially outplayed time and again by Europe’s elite and mindful of Barcelona’s increasingly successful brand of football, may well have considered giving the club a European style, at least when involved in the CL, by tailoring the team to suit the Bulgarian’s precocious talents. He may well have also savored the notion of seeing Berbatov replicate his performances with Keane by pairing the Bulgarian with Rooney and hoping the tandem would provide the expected fireworks. That it didn’t work boils down to the simple fact that Rooney isn’t even on the same planet as Berbatov when it comes to football intelligence, nor does he bear scrutiny on skill level comparisons. Where Berbatov has generally always had a fine reputation for being an excellent and unselfish strike partner who brings out the best in others, being paired with Rooney in the forward line has been a virtual career death sentence for a host of otherwise excellent strikers, with a basic job requirement to sacrifice their own play and desires by running interference for Rooney, to act as decoys for him, to generally try and open the field of play for him, and to set him up for goals at every given opportunity. Never mind that they received crumbs at best in return while he reaped all the accolades.

    Another aspect of the differences between the two is the measure of their worth to their respective national teams. Rooney is essentially a disaster for England who’s as much a liability through his behavior as he is for his limited goal scoring efforts – most of which are scored against the minnows of international football or in meaningless friendliest for a strike rate of 1 goal per 2.5 games – average return for a striker at the head of one of Europe’s supposed powerhouses. The greater indictment is how poorly he’s performed for England at the major tournaments, noted by the fact his solitary goal in the recent European championship represent his first score for England at a major tournament in EIGHT YEARS, going back to when he was an 18 year old tyro who was supposedly going to take the world by storm! Funny how that salient point gets missed by most of Rooney’s supporters. While Berbatov has never been able to carry a relatively weak Bulgaria to tournament glory on his own, he’s managed to compile a record of 48 goals for his country from just 77 matches, a return of two goals for every three games played, a considerably better record than Rooney’s, especially when one considers the stature of the team he’s played for.

    Another point to note is how often Berbatov’s detractors have cited his apparent lack of scoring for United in European competition, neglecting to point out how seldom he was given the opportunity to start on a regular basis for the team under such circumstances, nor mentioning how successful he’s been in Europe for other teams, as per his noteworthy performance for Spurs in the 2006-07 season (7 goals in 8 games) and 2007-08 (5 goals from 8 appearances). In fact, only for United could it be said that Berbatov ‘failed’ in Europe, which again points to the fact that a man who managed to score 28 times from 53 European games prior to his arrival at Old Trafford clearly found himself thoroughly wasted by a management team who were utterly clueless as to how to use his sublime gifts. Rooney’s ‘superior’ record in Europe is 31 goals from 71 games played – measure that against Berbatov’s pre-Old Trafford record.

    Another point to note is the biased manner in which author’s like the one who wrote this ridiculous article cite Berbatov’s statistics in comparison to Rooney’s, knowing full well how skewered the figures are when one takes into account just how many of the Bulgarian’s 108 league games for the team were as a late substitute. Why not present a tally of goals scored per games STARTED, or better yet, a minutes played to goals ratio, which clearly shows how much better performed the Bulgarian has been through his career at United than many people care to believe, especially when compared to boy wonder Rooney. Even last season, when he was so ostracized by Fergie, Berbatov managed to slot in 7 goals from just 12 league games, a considerably better ratio than Rooney’s totals from general play.

    The bottom line is that Berbatov has essentially been victimized by a manager who clearly made a major mistake in signing a player he never felt like committing to and who was basically made the scapegoat for Rooney’s inability to mesh with him – or anyone else for that matter. Ferguson, like so many people of high repute and long tenure, is seen by many as bulletproof, regardless of the fact he has a long and storied reputation for being a mean-spirited and petty individual who never forgets a grudge nor forgives a slight. There have been innumerable occasions when he’s made major gaffs in player acquisitions through the years that have seen him squander small fortunes on individuals who either didn’t merit the outlays or never meshed with the Scot’s limited vision. Bebe’s purchase should have elicited a virtual criminal inquiry regarding how 7 million pounds could have been thrown away sight unseen on a player who was clearly never worth one tenth of that figure. Questions should also have been asked regarding why Ferguson threw so much money at the Berbatov acquisition when he clearly had no idea how to play him. Towards the end of the Bulgarian’s tenure at Old Trafford Fergie’s behavior towards the player seemed to border on sheer malice from a professional perspective, as if Fergie knew he’d royally screwed up by bringing the Bulgarian in at such immense cost, but rather than have the good grace to say so simply decided to take his frustration and anger over the situation out on the player by totally ostracizing and humiliating him.

    I for one will be forever grateful to Berbatov for the many fine memories he presented us with regarding his superlative skills and his equally impressive grace and gentlemanly conduct under extreme duress – only after he’d departed from Old Trafford did he finally venture an opinion on the manner in which he’d been treated, which is all credit to him – he certainly had the long overdue right to say something.

    I have watched various United teams at play since the heady days of Busby’s last few years at Old Trafford, and I can state quite categorically that only three players in that span of nearly 45 years have ever touched the heights of what I consider to be the pinnacle of football greatness in terms of sheer skill and artistry. George Best was one, Cristiano Ronaldo (for all the narcissistic and petulant behavior that makes him such an odious character) was another. The third was Dimitar Berbatov. The tragedy for the Bulgarian is that he was not only ever fully appreciated by the general mass of United’s supporters, or by a befuddled management team who’ve NEVER really come to terms with European football (two dodgy wins in nearly three decades isn’t a very impressive CV for a team of United’s supposed stature in Europe) but that he had to stand comparison next to an idiot like Wayne Rooney, a player of far inferior talent and even less worth when comparing the two as human beings. One’s a home-grown hero of questionable stature for whom one and all, particularly the media and his manager, have always been prepared to field innumerable excuses. The sophisticated continental footballer was never cut the same slack, and United and football in general have been the poorer for such a surly and ungracious attitude, because talent such as Berbatov’s rarely comes along. To consign such gifts to a virtually permanent place on the bench was nigh on criminal.

    All I can look forward to now, out of the sad debacle that has been Berbatov’s career at United, is the day United finally get rid of Rooney and move forward as a team, free from the dead weight that he represents to its future progress. That and the day Sir Alex retires, because he’s a man who’s clearly reached his use by date and is too concerned for his own legacy at this stage of proceedings to really explore where United needs to go in terms of style and development. No one doubts his contributions to the United legend, but like all great players who’ve hung on too long, the time has come when he needs to be gently ushered out the door to allow a new manager to take the helm. The Fergie of old would certainly not have tolerated Rooney’s behavior from two seasons ago, nor would he have allowed the team to drop the ball in the manner in which it did last season, with only a handful of games left to play and a nine point lead over City. The winds of change are gusting around Old Trafford.

  8. Timbo, get in touch with me. You’ve got yourself a guest column in Five Cantonas. This is an astonishingly inaccurate and verbose panning of Wayne Rooney is exactly what the world needs more of.

  9. Interesting reading Timbo, thanks. Can’t help but agree with some of your points, if a tad harsh.

  10. Wow…just wow. Unreal rant about Rooney by our lad Timbo there. This guy needs his own tv show. He is of course completely deluded, but it’s entertaining nonetheless…”George Best, Ronaldo and Berbatov..”…really?

  11. I don’t really understand the point in this fergie vs berbatov debate. In my eyes berbatov doesn’t get the credit he deserves from some fans for the job he did in the team when called upon. He didn’t do enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Cantona but i’m happy with his contribution.
    Ferguson signed a player which he obviously liked and gave him good game time. But as always with Fergie he is constantly looking to the future and he felt it was time to give youthful energy a chance, which unfortunatly meant berbatov’s time was up.
    It’s because of Fergie’s ruthless streak and ability to spot when the team needs to be taken in a new direction that he has managed to keep the club at the top for so long.
    So if any united fan’s feel the need to moan about berbatov’s treatment by Sir Alex they need to take a long hard look at where they are and how they got there

  12. I now have to resign myself to the fact that Rooneys 100’s of goals, his CL semi final and final goals, his hat trick at West Ham that won us the league(the 2nd of which he created himself witha sublime touch anyone would be proud of) the goals against Milan, the winner at Anfield, the goals against Arsenal and chelsea in CL knockout phases and his goals being the only reason we competed last year were all just a hoax and I must have imagined it all. I never realised he was so shit, thanks for putting me straight Timbo. Cheers, Bryan.

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