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Tuesday, 03 April 2012

Manchester United: Farewell Berbatov - Here are your best bits

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If reports in the media are to be believed then Dimitar Berbatov will be shown the door at Old Trafford this summer. The Bulgarian hitman opted to join United over rivals Manchester City from Tottenham Hotspur in August 2008 and the £30 million deal was completed in the final minutes of the transfer window. 

Berbatov made his name at White Hart Lane where his silky skills embodied Spurs's tradition for attractive football. In many ways the brooding forward was a latter day Glenn Hoddle. Both men wore that famous white shirt with style and could win a match with a flash of genius.

However, both were strongly criticised for their lack of work rate. Berbatov was often portrayed as a sulker who drifted out of games. How would his individual flair fit with United’s team ethic? Sir Alex Ferguson would not tolerate slackers at Old Trafford. The initial signs were promising. Berbatov made his debut at Anfield. Although United lost 2-1, the new man set up Carlos Tevez’s goal.

His fist goal came against Aalborg in the Champions League. Playing in blue, the English Champions romped to a 3-0 win. Berbatov capitalised on a mix-up the Danish defence to open his account.


Berbatov showed all round brilliance against West Ham in October 2008. The Hammers were put to sword when the front man supplied this sublime assist.


Despite those moments of inspiration, his first season was generally regarded as a disappointment. The low point came in the 2009 FA Cup semi-final. After 120 minutes, United and Everton could not be separated. In the resulting penalty shoot out, Berbatov’s tame spot kick was easily saved by Tim Howard.

The blunder proved costly as the Toffees booked their place in the final. The multi-million pound signing was castigated for the miss in some quarters. It appeared his days in Manchester were numbered. 

Sir Alex resisted the temptation to sell the enigmatic marksman, maintaining the Bulgarian would come good. As usual Fergie had the last laugh. His form picked up the following season. Berba weighed in with 12 goals to cement his place in the team. The former Tottenham man came into his own following the summer break. He couldn’t stop scoring at the start of the 2010/11 season. Berbatov hit a sublime hat-trick as United overcame Liverpool. A spectacular overhead kick proved decisive in a five-goal thriller.


Those lacklustre displays were soon forgiven, scoring the winner against your bitterest rivals ensures hero status. This sparkling form continued throughout the autumn. Blackburn Rovers were rendered powerless when they visited the Theatre of Dreams. Berbatov scored five goals as Manchester United cruised to a 7-1 win.


He netted another hat-trick when Birmingham City came calling. The Blues were thumped 5-0 in January 2011. Berbatov contributed 21 league goals as United were crowned Champions. His impressive tally made him the Premier League’s joint top scorer. Ironically this accolade was shared with Carlos Tevez.

In recent times the 31-year-old has been confined to the sub's bench. Young strikers Danny Wellbeck and Javier Hernandez now jostle to partner Wayne Rooney. But he has not disappointed when he has been called upon. Over the Christmas period Berbatov scored six in three games, including a hat-trick at home to Wigan and this deft finish against Fulham in a 5-0 annihilation of the Cottagers.


But he can leave with his held high. In all Berba scored 48 goals in 106 appearances for Manchester United. An impressive strike rate for a player deemed surplus to requirements.

Calling all Manchester United fans. What will be your lasting memory of Dimitar Berbatov? Will you be sad to see him go? Do you think he deserves another season at Old Trafford? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you. - Football News & Transfers

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Colin Illingworth



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