“It took just three years, thirty two games and thirteen goals but Andy Ritchie managed to cement his place amongst a special group of players that will forever be regarded as favourites at the Theatre of Dreams.” That’s how the official club website describes the former Manchester United striker who was at Old Trafford from 1977 to 1980. Ritchie is a committed Dimitar Berbatov fan saying that what the Bulgarian could need more than anything is a constant run of matches.
“I have always been a Berba fan, you will never have heard criticism of him from me” he told Manchester Evening News “You never know what the manager has up his sleeve regarding selection and that’s how it should be but from Dimitar’s perspective, it would be great for him to get a few matches unbroken under his belt. There is no doubt that has to be a factor” he emphasised
“You need consistency in your game and to help get that you want to be playing match after match” he said “to have breaks thrown in they must have a big bearing. At the moment you cannot see him not playing and for his sake I hope that continues. He is a class act and brings the Cantona-esque factor to United’s game that I don’t think we have had for a while, possibly since Eric’s era. He holds the ball up so well, sees a pass and links play. For me it is also reminiscent of Jimmy Greenhoff at Old Trafford.”
“In my young days at the club Jimmy and Stuart Pearson were up front and I tried to get both of their styles in my games” he remembers “I particularly looked up to Jimmy. His control was superb, he too could pick a pass out and he scored goals as well. I think Dimitar is very similar.”
Berbatov is looking sharper, hungrier, quicker, even more dogged than he has ever looked in a United shirt. He is running around, chasing down 50-50 balls, tracking back and putting in the effort wherever he can. But more importantly, he is being lethal, both as a scorer and a provider of goals.
Ritchie is convinced that Berba’s goal haul is about to grow this season “I actually thought that last season he was very, very unlucky in front of goal” he added “yes some of it maybe was bad finishing but on the whole I thought he had a lot of bad luck. More good fortune and he would have been easily into the 20s. He has done that twice in England with Spurs and I think he can reach those kind of figures again. I have no doubts that he is a 20 odd goal a season striker.”
Berbatov scored with a horizontal scissor kick against West Ham in what was a moment of pure class from the man widely regarded as having the best technique in the Premiership. It was also a moment which immediately underlined the difference between this season and the previous one for the Bulgarian. Last season, the same shot would have ballooned off into the crowd or at best, would have gotten miskicked into the ground.
“Although Dimitar is Mr Cool personified on the outside you just wonder how much an affect coming to a club like Manchester United has had on him” Richie said “I think the enormity of it has possibly played on his game but I think he is through that now. After two seasons you have to say this is an important one for him. I’m confident the way he has started he’ll have a lot more people singing his praises this year.”
Ritchie may well be right if Berbatov can follow in the footsteps of another languid, stylish player who sparked United’s current dominance in the early 90s. That legend was Eric Cantona and Berba may finally convince fans that he also deserves to have his name engraved in Manchester United folklore.
Do you agree with Andy Ritchies assessment of Berbatov?