Dimitar is fast going from 'Berbaflop' to 'Berbatop'

What a difference twelve months can make! It was only this time last year that calls for Sir Alex Ferguson to show Nani and Dimitar Berbatov the Old Trafford door were growing louder. Yet apart from each grabbing a spectacular goal on Saturday, they turned on a performances which had ‘class’ written all over it. Together with veteran Paul Scholes they ran the show in a game that United never looked like losing.

Manchester United  3  vs  West Ham  0

What a difference twelve months can make! It was only this time last year that calls for Sir Alex Ferguson to show Nani and Dimitar Berbatov the Old Trafford door were growing louder. Yet apart from each grabbing a spectacular goal on Saturday, they  turned on a performances which had ‘class’ written all over it. Together with veteran Paul Scholes they ran the show in a game that United never looked like losing.

The only concern in an otherwise polished display was the amount of goalscoring opportunities which continue to go begging game after game. Both the Hammers and Newcastle could, and should, have been beaten by twice the margin this season while the failure to take the chances created at Craven Cottage proved costly. It’s a waste that Ferguson will certainly be having a serious look at.

The Guardian This was not so much a comfortable victory as a cashmere covered one over a West Ham side that have lost their first three Premier League matches and struggled to overcome Oxford in the Carling Cup. Not since 1977 have West Ham started a season this badly, and that campaign culminated in relegation. Only in the universe that surrounds Wayne Rooney could this summer be called a drought. Until he converted a first half penalty the most naturally gifted footballer Old Trafford has seen since Bobby Charlton had not scored in more than 18 and a half hours of competitive football.

Only in terms of statistics and headlines was Rooney the game’s outstanding figure. Nani was constantly threatening, while the most exquisite goal was the falling volley from Berbatov who has eclipsed his strike partner in the opening matches. “He and Paul Scholes orchestrated most of the football” Ferguson said “Nemanja Vidic put in two fantastic tackles, one in each half. It was a great team effort but we should have scored more.”  Full Report

Manchester Evening News – Wayne Rooney ended his goal drought as Manchester United turned on the style to down West Ham at Old Trafford. Rooney, who hadn’t scored for club or country since March, netted a first half penalty after Ryan Giggs had been fouled in the box. Five minutes after the break Nani did find the back of the net. Fine interplay from Scholes and Rooney set the Portuguese star free and after a neat sidestep he slammed a left footed shot into the goal.

The Hammers kept going and Kieron Dyer, one of the visitors’ more lively performers, hit the outside of the post. But it was a brief moment of light for West Ham, as United poured forward at will with pace and movement. Sure enough, the third came in exquisite style. John O’Shea cut the ball back to Nani in the box, who clipped a cross to the far post where Berbatov slammed home an acrobatic volley from close range. Full Report

Daily Telegraph – Beseeched by the Stretford End to make his breakthrough, Wayne Rooney finally delivered. After 18 hours and 34 minutes of bitter frustration, encompassing a sudden slump for his club and a miserable World Cup for his country, the Manchester United striker had relief written across his face as he dispatched the penalty that broke his protracted goal drought.

Nani was energised in the second half, exchanging a neat give and go with Rooney then left the hapless Gabbidon in a heap before firing a gorgeous goal from the edge of the area. The winger, having flattered to deceive since his move from Sporting Lisbon two years ago, could be on the cusp of a memorable campaign. Berbatov, likewise, did not wish to be a wallflower as the United party started. Again Nani was the pivot in a clinical United move, clipping the ball across to Berbatov at the far post where the striker coiled his body acrobatically and let fly with an agile volley. Full Report

Goalscorers – Rooney 33m(Pen), Nani 50m, Berbatov 68m

Edwin Van der Sar, John O’Shea, NemanjaVidic, Jonny Evans (Chris Smalling 74m), Patrice Evra, Nani, Paul Scholes (Michael Carrick 74m), Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov (Michael Owen 74m) Referee – Mark Clattenburg

Comment…Is it REALLY so offensive for a player to take off his shirt when celebrating a goal as Berbatov did? There are so many other incidents which are far worse without being punished with a mandatory yellow card that it makes one wonder if the authorities have got their priorities right.

Should Nani or Valencia play on the right flank?

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Frank Scicluna
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  • Valencia needs to find back the form that made him player of the month 2 times in a row last season on manutd.com.. also Nani can actually play on the left flank, whereas valencia would really struggle there..

  • I am sick and tired of the comments about past and present Berbatov – he remained an outstanding footballer throughout his first tow seasons at Old Trafford – as shown by his occasional forays for his native country. In his first year he was taken away from his usual role and asked to play deeper (which Fergie admitted was a mistake he personally shouldered the blame for) not having had any chance whatsoever to get a pre-season in with the boys in order to learn and adapt to United’s style. Last season he became the sacrificial lamb for the team’s deficiencies in midfield, where Fergie was forced to play the extra man in the engine room in 4-5-1 formations, which meant that a striker had to be dispensed with – hence Berba got dropped. Given his sporadic appearances, the lack of continuity for a player who’s game revolves around touch, and the fact that uninformed and ignorant fans and pundits took his ‘demotions’ as signs of poor play, it’s amazing that the Bulgarian turned in as decent a season as he did when he was being made to shoulder blame that should have been apportioned to the main culprits, players like Carrick, Anderson, etc.

    Equally astonishing is how people want to keep prattling on about Berba’s inconsistent play and the hit and miss nature of his shooting (which is not true – his shots are by and large on target, the luck has simply not run his way with shots that others wouldn’t have even got a foot on – and good keeping has also kept him at bay) yet these same people stay deafeningly silent regarding the real wastrel in the team, a player who habitually sends balls into orbit over the goal when the net would be the easier target, frequently breaks down play with his poor passing and lack of vision, goes on hot and cold goal scoring streaks that should have his picture plastered next to the dictionary definition of the word ‘inconsistent’ is so reliant upon being set up by others for goals and so incapable of making goals for himself – and others – that he becomes a frustrated and isolated figure when marked closely by good defenders. I am of course speaking of the most over-rated footballer in recent generations, Wayne Rooney. I have watched this kid play since he first burst on the scene with Everton, and have waited patiently for years to see if the raw talent would translate into something of substance – it hasn’t. Running tirelessly up and down the pitch all day and wearing your heart on your sleeve every step of the way does not denote class, as many seem to think. It just denotes a trier – period. The only thing that has really improved in his play is his ability to head the ball – of course, that means people with good crossing ability (Berbatov, Nani, Valencia, etc) have to set him up.

    For those who want to spring to Rooney’s defense, do yourselves a favour. Take a pad, draw up the following columns – Minutes played, Shots on goals, shots on target, blown goals, shots over goal, goals (not penalties), easy goals (tap-ins, easy headers) self made goals, assists, dispossessed in one-on-one situations, intercepted passes, and defense placed under genuine pressure due to handing the ball back to opposition. Then put Rooney and Berbatov next to those columns. Over a span of games played, you’ll find that Rooney easily outstrips the Bulgarian in all the negative areas and falls behind in most of the positives. You don’t even have to keep the list, just be observant. If you have a tape of yesterday’s game against West Ham you’ll see Rooney giving perfect display of his typical play – wasting shooting opportunities, looking indecisive at crucial moments in front of goal, getting the ball taken away by solitary defenders, handing the ball back through errant passing. It was a textbook display of Rooney being Rooney. Then watch Berbatov and how effortlessly he holds the ball against 2 – 3 defenders until he can round them or pass to an open team mate, or how passes generally find not only their target, but usually the player in the best position to pass to. Look at the numerous and well-timed lay-offs that gave team mates like Scholes wonderful opportunities to shoot for goal. He has a sense of field awareness, of where his team mates are, that remind me a great deal of Cruyff at his sublime best. And the volley to score the goal was just beautiful – as always, with Berbatov one always gets the impression that he knows exactly what he’s doing, that there’s none of the raging uncertainty to his shooting that one associates with Rooney, particularly when he’s trying to volley a ball. Just comparing the two players on basic technique is instructive. Watch Berbatov trap a cross and it looks like he has glue on his boot, so exquisite is the touch. It gives him all the time in the world to make a choice regarding what to do with the ball, even with defenders closing in. Rooney by comparison frequently bounces the ball yards away in his feeble attempts to bring the ball down, either handing the ball back to the opposition or using up so much precious time in retrieving it that opportunities get lost as the defense shuts him down. It’s nuances like that that which make the difference, but unfortunately nuances are not what British football is about, which is why it has become the laughing stock of world football. The footballing public, by and large, are enamored by bash and barge football, all pace and brawn, wrestling matches rather than continental technique. Little wonder that Berbatov’s extraordinary abilities are so largely underappreciated by all but the Bulgarian’s team mates and Sir Alex, who recently cited some of the play he is capable of as sheer genius.

    I cherish watching the Bulgarian play because I appreciate just how rare his gifts are, which is in total contrast to how I feel about Rooney, an individual who frustrates and exasperates far more than just about any other player I can recall in recent memory. His recent displays for England were not an aberration, just a focal point for all his deficiencies. There’s enough class at United to mask them by and large, to cater to his few strengths. As his pace goes the balloon will finally burst and people will finally see what a one trick pony with little technique he really is. Given his energy, if he had any kind of vision, football smarts, and decent passing ability he’d make a great attacking midfielder – but he doesn’t.

  • Good comments Timbo. One of the major reasons why England continually fail is that the crach bang wallop of the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney etc etc are favoured over the more sublime skills of others. When the likes of Matt Le Tissier could not get a look in at Interbnational level, yet Andy Sinton and Geoff Thomas do, you know there is a problem.

    Because Berba looks laid back, he gets grief from a media and fans alike, but that belies his contribution. I remember Sheringham getting a bit of stick in year 1 at OT because of comparrisons with Cantona…all he needed was time, same with Berbatov. He has the class and the vision to be able to open up defences and has been pretty unlucky at United with keepers making countless “Great Saves” from him…

    I for one hope that the early season goals boost his confidence because he could form an immense partnership with the more direct and robust Rooney, who does need to be more efficient in hios game and cut ther simple errors out.

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