Berbatov: The Straight Forward Center Forward
After spending the last two matches left on the cold substitutes’ bench, Dimitar Berbatov exhibited that he has ice running has tapped home Manchester United’s winning goal against Bolton. The goal took Berbatov’s Barclays Premier League goal total to 20 goals in just 27 games, which many think confounds the latest decisions by Sir Alex Ferguson to leave him on the bench.
No matter how anyone looks at it, the Bulgarian must have felt hard done being overlooked in favor of the newly-struck partnership between Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, but to his credit, Berbatov kept his nose to grindstone and did exactly what has been asked of him against Bolton.
In football today, when a player does not get their way and are not playing every week, they usually carry on or put in a transfer request, but not Dimitar. Over his first three seasons at Old Trafford, Berbatov has shone the utmost respect for Sir Alex, his teammates, the supporters, and most importantly the club, itself.
Was Berbatov disappointed that he was not selected to play in the last couple of games for the Reds against Arsenal and Olympique de Marseille? Of course he was, a blind man could see the idea of failure written all across on Berbatov’s face, but he still was professional enough to wipe it off and get on with his business.
Berbatov is not as versatile as Rooney, and does not have the blistering pace of Hernandez, which some see as a dig at his game, but really it isn’t. Rooney is, and always has been, a more withdrawn center forward that likes to play a bit deeper, and in the last couple of matches he has really started to look like he is enjoying his football again.
Chicharito is a young, energetic striker that wreaks havoc for defenders with his well-timed runs, and speed to get across to the near post. To be fair, the United No. 9 is not like either of those two, but he possesses other valuable attributes, including one of the best first touches, that other offensive-minded players would love bolster in their repertoire.
Amazingly, Berbatov is often described as either lazy or sulks, but nobody in their right mind can detract what he has done this season for United. Up until this season, Berbatov was seen as a waste of £30 million to set up either Rooney or another teammate with an assist, but he knew that it was now or never to save his United career, so he added goals to his game.
20 of them to be exact, which is nearly half of the goals Berbatov has scored in his three seasons at Old Trafford, and has raised his goals-to-game ratio from 0.33 to 0.45.
Berbatov is not the type of center forward that will run his socks off for you, which is down to his endurance being lower than players like Rooney or Hernandez, but he does work harder than people give him credit for. Since he does not have that capability, Berbatov has to make smarter, more precise runs, which he can do because of his ability to think quicker than most strikers.
Another thing the Bulgarian can do very well is maneuver through tight areas by using his strength and very underrated footwork, which is more refined than both of the players that he is competing for places with.
Sir Alex Ferguson has a welcomed selection headache with three producing center forwards, and right now, and to his chagrin, it is Dimitar Berbatov’s time to operate as the super sub for Manchester United.