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Boss’ Benching Of Berbatov Is Baffling

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A lot of Manchester United supporters have been complaining about Javier Hernandez usually being the odd man out, but he is not the only player that does not feature for the Reds in a big game. Against Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to clone Roberto Mancini’s defensive tactics with by choosing a 4-5-1 formation, which ultimately meant that there was no place for Dimitar Berbatov in United’s starting line-up.

This is the second straight time that Ferguson has opted to leave the Barclays Premier League’s leading goal scorer out of a big match at Old Trafford, but to his credit, Berbatov did well not to let his disappointment show during his productive 23-minute cameo against City. The United manager stated that it was down to how many man City put in the midfield, but when does Ferguson adjust to the way the other team is playing at Old Trafford?

football newsThe answer would be rarely – maybe against Barcelona – but certainly not against City, which was why Berbatov not starting was a head scratcher. To confound the popular opinion that he sulks when he does not get his way, Berbatov showed that he has mindset to buckle down and contribute to the United cause when called upon.

Anderson, who was very inconsistent throughout, replaced Berbatov in the starting XI, but to be completely honest, the midfielder’s best moment came when he was seen celebrating Rooney’s winner from the United dugout. When Berbatov finally came on for Anderson, he brought the balance to that the United attack was in desperate need of, and provided some great passes and touches which invited his teammates forward.

The Bulgarian already has scored three hat-tricks and has improved his goal scoring total by seven goals in 11 less games from last season, but he is still getting overlooked by the manager, however, he has yet to pull a Carlos Tevez and speak out against Sir Alex’s decision. Yes, Berbatov did not play all that well against Wolverhampton last weekend, but neither did any of the other 10 starters for that matter, so it was cruel for him to only make bench for this match.

Ferguson has stated a couple of times that Rooney and Berbatov are a very good partnership, and when you couple that with the fact that he said that there would not be any tactical shocks, makes his decision all the more confusing. If that was the case, then why not play them together by having Rooney dropping off deeper to help out the midfield, and allow Berbatov play more up the pitch, which would have caused more problems for Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott.

Instead, Ryan Giggs and Nani were both pumping crosses into areas where Berbatov would have been, which allowed the center-backs to defend Rooney two-v-one, and forced the passing from the wings to be more precise. Rooney’s classy goal will ultimately justify, and divert, the attention of Sir Alex’s skeptical formation, but it was the Bulgarian’s presence that opened up that space in the box.

However, if that strike did not end up in the top corner of Joe Hart’s net, the United boss would have had to answer a lot of angry questions thrown his tactics, which is probably why he has increased his love for Rooney’s goal by stating, “in terms of execution you will never see that.”


The Gaffer said that he has been left in a “quandary” about how both of first-choice striker’s inability to replicate their dominating performances away from Old Trafford, which should be their area of focus now.

The two have only combined for five of the 18 league goals that the Reds have scored on the road, which is just one more than Chicharito has himself. At Old Trafford United have scored 39 goals, which is just four less than City’s total from all their matches, but they have scored 21 fewer goals away from home.

With four games of their next five games away from Old Trafford, which includes matches against Chelsea and Liverpool, the Reds will need to improve on their woeful away form, or they will lose the advantage they have done ever so well to create for themselves. No one should ever question Sir Alex Ferguson’s decisions, but a better explanation should be given to explain why Manchester United’s leading goal scorer, Dimitar Berbatov, continues to get overlooked when he has dramatically improved his game in terms of goal scored.

Submitted by The United Religion



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  2. Danny from Malaysia

    February 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

    As you rightfully said , no one should question Sir Alex’s selection , but there you spent a full article questioning him. Sir Alex has won more trophies than any MU manager , and is our longest serving gaffer . He has proven more than his worth and the victory has proven he is right once more. Who are we to debate his selection ?

  3. realist

    February 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

    quite right danny. the mind boggles at how many experts we seem to have running blogs these days that seem to love nothing more than questioning fergies decisions.
    to ask for a better, more in depth explanation as to why berbatov was not playing, in my opinion, is foolish, as we have already had one! quite simply 4 against 5 in the middle is hard work unless those 4 consist of players like robson keane ince and mcgrath who you would fancy against any midfield 5 simply because of the ferocity and workrate that matches their greatness.
    also, it is much easier to change the pattern of a game into a more attacking one going from 433 to 442, as shown in the game itself saturday. it allows us a trump card if you like, if the games not going the way we wanted, which after the flukey deflected city goal, it wasnt.
    so, totally justified if you want my opinion, and very very obvious as to why it was done. just for the record i left berbatov out of my fantasy football starting 11 this weekend because it was fairly obvious what the great man was going to do with his team selection!

  4. Russell Y

    February 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Good article TUR ! Yes, SAF is no doubt one of the greatests,if not the greatest manager in the football history and we are so proud to have him in helm of United.
    Voicing out ones opinion does not necessarily mean callenging his sovereignty and wisdom , after all we United people just want a better and improving United team time after time. Expectation are sky high once you have got the ‘United blood’ running in your veins…
    We have not been playing the best United brand of football to date this season, there are certainly rooms for improvement !
    And as the greatest manager admitted after the 2-1 defeat to wolves, he was responsibled for the ‘ineffective tactics’.. We simply not performing well with a lone striker up front or with the so call diamond formation (except that in CL). A more offensive and commanding type of play, in my opinion will be much widely appreciated …As the philosophy of Sir Matt Busby goes : If we concede once, we will score twice ! After all this is Manchester United

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