Dimitar Berbatov – How much longer will you give him?

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We’ve been split down the middle with our opinions of Dimitar Berbatov ever since he made the decision to swap North London for Old Trafford. You’ve had those supporters that are mesmerised by his beautiful touch and close control and then there are fans who continually berate his unambiguous lacksidasical style that, at the end of the day, epitomises him as a player.

The criticisms of the former Spurs man will undoubtedly spread like wildfire after his pathetic attempt at a penalty on Sunday, although after a somewhat average season thus far, can you really argue that these criticisms aren’t justified?

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Bulgarian from day one, I’ll quite happily admit that for starters. The whole Tottenham sulk affair was frustrating and although Spurs can’t escape blame for the handling of the transfer, Berbatov shouldn’t get away scot free for his attitude either.

In all honesty, I couldn’t really comprehend why we were splashing out so much money on a player that we didn’t really need. We had just won a domestic and European double with Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney leading the line, so why complicate things by bringing in a striker who doesn’t take criticism, and more importantly squad rotation lightly. Fortunately we haven’t experienced what could be described as an infamous Berbatov sulk as of yet, mainly due to Ferguson’s apparent unending desire to prove that he has made the right decision in signing him. Look at Tevez scoring four goals in the Carling Cup earlier in the season and then being dropped the following game. I ask would Berbatov really have received the same treatment.

Despite my early pessimism, there’s certainly no denying the positives that Berbatov brings to the table. His first touch is, at times, breathtaking. The way he almost effortlessly slows down play can also be extremely effective. There’s also the fact that as much as he hasn’t found his goalscoring touch thus far for United, Dimitar Berbatov does know how to hit the back of the net. In his time with both Spurs and Leverkusen he averaged just short of a goal every other game and that’s not a record to be scorned at.

So where does my gripe and the gripe of many other United fans really stem from? Well if we ignore his lazy and what often seems uninterested style of play, I just don’t see what Berbatov is giving us at the moment. Carlos Tevez is in a similar predicament with his lack of goals and fundamentally average performances but his desire and attitude has won us over and that does go some way to make up for his lack of cutting edge in front of goal. Indeed, how will we all react if our bustling Argentine centre-forward does decide to move in the summer in search of first-team football? Berbatov will no doubt again prove to be the brunt of the blame.

Sure the fancy flicks and gorgeous touches can be pleasing on the eye but at a time when results are a necessity, surely Berbatov needs to start offering a hell of a lot more. At the end of the day at £30 odd million he was presumably brought in to help spearhead our attack and was billed the final piece to a jigsaw that had arguably already been completed.

It’s ultimately a tough one. There’s no doubt that Berbatov has the ability to become a hugely successful player for us but is eight goals in 25 league games really an acceptable return? Every player needs time to adjust to new surroundings but will those fans who are strictly opposed to his consistent selection be prepared to give him another season to prove his worth? I’m certainly not giving up hope on him yet but my patience is wearing thin with every passing minute.

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96 Comments

  1. For me if either tevez or berbatov leave i want the chances to go to kiko and danny , i dont think ronaldo will be sold off , he wont leave either real is too gimp to leave for , i doubt he is that stupid. if he is then we need some big stars signing to cover him. even though if he does not perform still scores out of nothing which kinda makes it hard hate him.

  2. @Gabriel: So when he is a lone striker how come he still decides to play on the halfway line? He barely had one touch when he came on yesterday and then manages to miss a penalty when Howard had already dived before he kicked it. He had a run of 4 or 5 games when he was played with Carrick and Rooney but it seems when even 1 of these players is missing he is crap. The ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck when your team is struggling is what separates the Ronaldos and Rooneys from the average players and that is not present in Berbatov from what I’ve seen

  3. @Jon: Again I emphasize the rant was based on a fantasy scenario where I was in charge and I was given carte blanche. I would make all those changes. Truthfully, many of the players that I want gone ae players who either cannot do it any longer at the highest level (Scholes, Neville), are going backwards in their development under Fergie (Anderson, Nani, Tevez), and who basically don’t fit my way of doing things or playing the game and of course Ronaldo who will either stay or leave depending on what he wants. Bottom line, I ask him what he wants and I take it from there. I would never want a player to stay where he does not want to be. I am also including a player like Evra who was once a very nice little player but one who recently has not only lost a step, but his common sense and desire to play the game. I’m much more realistic in the fact that not all these players can be gotten rid of immediately but over the next couple of years. Changes need to be made. I do not like this team. Yes I love Manchester United but there were players on this team that I don’t like and I have never liked even when we won the Double last year. Nothing personal, just the wrong kind of players for what I consider to be Man Utd football. Tevez and Anderson are the main culprits. Never cared for them, never will. Nani I like but his style is so foreign to what we need. Park I’d keep but he would play less than ten games a season and only in situations where I need a superstar wide player marked out of a game. Evra is gone even though there is a chance he could regain his form. Why? Because he costs too much to take the risk, because he still has value to sell and because Fabio is already a better player than him. Finally, I want either Aguero and or Huntelaar on my team. Two great strikers with completely different styles. Whichever is willing to come and is the easiest to buy, I’d take.

    And let me end with the goalkeeper. I am not down on EVDS. He has been a very good keeper for us and has helped us forget Schmeichel a bit. But he is almost 40 and this is a young man’s game. It’s time for a young heir apparent. Foster is decent but i do not believe he is the answer. For me this is a vital change for the future. Buy that great keeper now before other big teams buy him. There are only a handful of United caliber keepers out there.

    Now if you want me to be realistic and say what I would like to see under Fergie next season and what I think is realistic? I would say a LMF/LW star like a Ribery and a striker to replace Tevez. That is all we will see. I think we will be stuck with Evra, EVDS, Scholes, Neville, Berbatov, Anderson and the whole works. We may end up losing Nani and of course Ronaldo, but that is all. And if I was to put money on it, Ronaldo stays at United.

  4. @Jon: There are a few great young German play makers but certainly not players that would interest Fergie. Toni Kroos and Marko Marin. Able to play wide or in the middle. They are both farther along than Tosic or LLajic are that’s for sure and are also better technically. But Fergie doesn’t like Germans, that is no secret and not up for debate. As Rafa would say, “it’s fact”. 😀

    I do like Schweinsteiger if we would adopt a more cross oriented system. Other than that, I really do not fancy any other German players for United although I am impressed with the sudden development of Petr Trochowski as a strong attacking midfielder. And no, I do not think Diego is past his prime. He would be a great purchase for us.

  5. @Jon: Bottom line is our midfield has to be completely rebuilt. For too long we have counted on Giggs and Scholes but no longer can this be the case. Yes we have Hargreaves and Carrick but I still feel we need that definitive central midfield box to box Essien like force. Until he comes along, whoever it might be, we will be up Shit Creek without a paddle. My God it sickens me to think that Chelsea don’t just have one, but three of them in Ballack, Lampard and Essien. We have none. Enough said.

  6. @Red Ranter: Fair enough RR, here is what I would do. Let Tevez go, try to convince both Neville and Scholes to retire and go out and buy Ribery and or Diego. If you manage only one of those two, then go and buy an in the box striker although with the emergence of Macheda, I am no longer that demanding about that. It’s our midfield that needs an overhaul. Hargo may or may not be back at 100%, we need to make sure that the midfield has a general and a leader. Ribery and Diego are the ambitious offensive leaders that could galvanize our attack and make it less predictable. Other than that, I still feel we need to seriously look for a world class young keeper.

    Through this scenario I am only asking Neville, Scholes and perhaps EVDS to do the right thing and retire. I am putting up with Evra, Anderson and Berbatov. I am hoping that an attacking midfield general will help Berbatov become the player we know he is capable of. But Tevez has to go for sure. We need the money he would cost to address our dire needs in midfield. With the emergence of Macheda and even Welbeck, I feel we can do without his brand of strong effort with no end result. Hope that is a more practical answer to your question. I also think it’s highly doable.

  7. @Red Ranter: I don’t think that SAF will dispose of Berbatov that quickly, so all of you that say he should be given more time will probably get your wish here.

    I would be curious though as to what kind of yardstick we would use to measure whether he cuts the mustard. Are we just looking for a better sense of effort from him, or do we ask that he once again produces the 1 goal per 2 games average that the article states as his previous average.

    I would imagine that SAF thought that the 30mil was worth it given the idea that he could produce 20-25 goals a season and a slew of mouth watering assists. After all, goals are the Holy Grail of this sport and as such the cost of scoring them becomes somewhat trivial (for United, anyway). Ferguson will have to see Berbatov’s production as a disappointment, right now, because after all it is our lack of scoring that has hurt us this season and his star signing has offered not much at all to help this.

    There’s been a lot of talk about his lazy attitude, I for one am beginning to cringe when I see him lope around and around, without seeming to care whether he fails or succeeds. But the larger picture really is his production. If he would be popping in the goals I wouldn’t give a shit about his attitude!!!

  8. @Ilamb22: It was a fantasy world wish of mine. Not realistic and highly improbable but I laid out in my comment what I would do if I was in charge. Take that for what it’s worth. I do discuss in later comments what I would do in a more practical sense, or what I think Fergie will do in a more practical sense. So I haven’t lost mind if that’s what you were thinking. 😀

  9. @Redrich: See that’s where I disagree. Fergie is a proud and very stubborn old fart who is not in the position of being proven wrong. All the more reason why he will stick with Berbatov for at least one more season and see if he can tweak things a little more to make Berbatov’s duties a little more to his and to the fans liking. Fergie does not like to come up a loser by giving up on a player he hand picked. Hell no, he won’t go. 😀

  10. Berbatov is an amazing player but he still thinks hes at north london, where he can do whatever he pleases and no one would say anything, now he is at Man United where we demand players to play with their full potential.

    I partly blame Fergie for that, all season we havent actually played with the passion that we saw the last couple of seasons, Fergies motivational skills seems to be dipping I do hope this is just in my head but if that was true I wish he gets his act together.

    I dont want you to attack me for saying this, its just a thought that I had and I wanted to know what you guys think.

  11. @Grognard: Tell who does “like coming up a loser”??
    I think SAF has tried to tweak things already when it comes to Berbatov, but, your right, he is stubborn and because of that he will stick with him for one more year!!

  12. First off i have to ask why last summer we didnt ever even enquire for samuel eto’s services. He was there for the taking, would have only cost £20million maximum, i just cannot believe we didnt take up the opportunity to snap him up he would have been excellent.
    Now as for berbatov, i really feel alot of the reason why he isnt firing on all cylinders is because he just doesnt get the service he should do. I mentioned this yesterday and i was told that it wouldnt matter anyway because hes never in the box. Well i have 2 things to say about that. Firstly if hes never in the box why isnt fergie having a word with him then? Can anyone answer that.
    Secondly ok i admit he does play too far back and isnt in the box but for me from what ive seen i think he does this for a reason. Who honestly puts crosses into the box for him to head the ball into the net. Does ronaldo, no, does park, he can hardly cross the ball full stop, does oshea, same as park evra does occassionally but thats it, so why is no one putting crosses into him. Why nani is not included just for his crossing ability at the very least i dont know. As for service along the ground, who the hell is the central midfielder giving him the lovely through balls. Fletcher no way, and carrick doesnt do it enough so you wonder why he drifts back, well maybe hes sick of getting no service at all from the midfield so he thinks he better do it himself. Do you all remember the goal against spurs, when carrick dinked it over the top and berba was put clean through and he scored. That was a proper strikers goal, if the midfield was as good as barcelonas or chelseas he would be getting 5-10 goals a season alone from being put clean through. Please no1 say our midfield is up to scratch because its not. Poeple like liam (sorry to name you but you always seem to slate me cos i speak the truth and say negative things when theyre deserved) seem to think the team is fine and its just berbatov who has completely ruined the team. Thank god for people like craig and grognard who were saying yesterday our team is agonsing to watch this season and its true. We almost play 3 defensive midfielders in our 1st team in park, carrick and fletcher. So you all say berbatov is a flop, well i refuse to get on that bandwaggon until i see him playing infront of a decent midfield. And grognard comment 55, thank god you mentioned diego, ive been talking about him for years but unfortunately it sounds like he may be going to city, their midfield is looking better than ours at this rate. Please fergie sort it out urgently. I dont think berba is the player responsible for our poor form its the defensive tactics and poor midfield in my opinion and no1 on here is gonna convince me otherwise.

  13. I don’t not blame Berbatov for the loss. Players score penalties and cock up penalties. Plus Berbatov always takes his penalties like that,..just that he got it wrong yesterday. I wouldn’t want him sent to the gallows for that though!

  14. @Matt: I think it was because Eto was asking for a bucketload in wages… something like 155K or something like that. Might be true and would make sense in that case!

  15. Ive already made my opinions about Berabawaste in the previous comment section. And I can safely say that my opinions havent changed, and I still wish he will leave in a cage. You know, because he is so full of aggresion, showing too much emotion and fighting spirit. 🙄

    I want either Kiko and Danny to be given more chances, or get Villa or Aguero.

  16. We had a strong team, a team which won the Premier League and Champions League with the trinity of Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez playing superbly well and bagging lots of goals. Did we need another striker? maybe, but not for a 30M pound price tag.
    I think the only reason berba is playing every week is because SAF wants to justify the the huge sum of money he spent. He got lucky with Jaap Stam and Juan Sebastian Veron where he managed to sell them back to their previous club. But spurs are unlikely to do so as they have already have Robbie Keane and Pavlyuchenko.
    The one thing I fear the most is Ronaldo and Tevez leaving and Berbatov still giving mediocre performances. If that happens, the fans would want Berbatov out and Wayne Rooney will be the only name feared at Old Trafford

  17. @Grognard: I understand that grognard, which is why i composed a list of players whom i think should join the clunb, aguero for me would be another tevez, so i prosed keirrison whom is much more of a natrual striker and finisher.

    The player i would love to see join this club would be Hernanes of sao paulo, the guy is just a joy to watch on the ball and is amazing, if he possessed the unbelievable speed of kaka, he would be better ricardo, but he still is no slouch, great dead ball striker and excellent playmaker, he comes from the farm which produced robinho, Diego Rai Juninho and the great Kaka himself.

    watch some youtube videos of him if you can not get a feed of sao paulo, they are playing against America de Cali on Wednesday 19.50 (CDT time)
    If you remind me i could post a stream before i sleep, i really recommend you watch him in action, he maybe the answer to all of united creative midfield woes

  18. @Mr.Muhozi: Sounds like you have a tap into all the happenings and who’s who in Brazilian football. You should provide us all a list of top young players and the teams they play for because Brazilian football is the one league I do not follow or know anything about. I follow Argentina much more and as you know, I am in many ways, pro European in my preferences and knowledge. Please let us all know more about these players. 😀

  19. @Grognard: Also, what’s with these bloody Yankees getting kicked around in their own park 10-2 and 22-4? Disgusting. Time to fire that idiot Girardi. Amazing Big Stein never told his son to put the hammer down after that 22 run debacle. 🙄

  20. @NicoQB: Yeah I’ve seen that news make rounds lately. The good thing is this (and I’m saying this at the risk of stereotyping): no more running half way round the world to hang out on the beach with a few broads in tow, no more orgies (read copiously flowing alcohol/drugs etc).

    The downside is he’s going to play for Italy. Italy! FFS!

  21. @Grognard: The point you pointed out about Chelsea is so spot on. Such strength in the central midfield area, and any of the those 3 players would make a world of difference at United. But then again, fuck Chelsea and their players. Of course, this is being pro-United and all biased. One thing that humors me though, is their lack of quality wingers. Robben wasn’t too bad when he was around, but Malouda and Kalou look like clowns on the pitch, belonging to a completely different team than the powerful central midfield. We can be grateful for a certain Cristiano Ronaldo to thank for making up, at least a miniscule bit, for our lack of central creativity and force. And even he is not performing top game this season.

    For next season, what I think Fergie might do is sell off Nani (considering how he has been outcast recently) and use Scholes in maybe only 7-8 games in the season. That said, if Hargreaves returns, we might have quite a good looking midfield alongside Carrick, who I am a very big fan of. I think Hargo has yet to show what he can really do: boss the midfields of every other team, and we’d all love to see him finally pay us back for the 16 million pounds he cost us.

    With him holding the fort, Carrick can hopefully get forward alot more, and use his attacking vision to spray the ball to our forwards. I believe his acquisiton was a main factor in why United won in 2007. I hate seeing him playing the Keane role, for even though he jogs and looks like him from afar, he is a completely different player. Gibson would be more ala Roy Keane. Also, if Carrick can pull out his shooting boots that saw the two stunner of rockets against Roma, we could have another option in attack.

    Which leaves Anderson and Fletcher. (Provided Giggs follows Scholes easing into retirement). I’m not a big fan of Fletcher, so despite his whole ‘big-game’ abilities, it gives me palpitations whenever I see his name in the starting lineup. I know he’s not awful, but really, he’s not United quality. A backup for Hargo at the most. I still have faith in Anderson and he has a bright future. We should give him another chance. I still remember him pissing all over Fabregas last season, and I think he still has alot in him that can replicate that in the coming season. That said, patience will wear off eventually, and another season and a half of bullshit play and he’s off…probably to the La Liga for half the price we bought him for. Spanish cunts.

    That was my take on our current midfielders, and I’d hope to see Fergie an attacking midfielder ala Gerrard/Lampard. I think we need that creativity that Scholes can’t bring to us on a regular basis anymore, bar the one or two brilliant moments he has. Also, with Tosic looking tossed into the reserves, Park being skill-less and with an inapt disability to cross, and Nani shunted on the bench, we will definately need a new LMF. And yes, how we all long for Ribery. He is definately an injection of life that we need. And no, not the run-like-a-fucking-bull kind of life Park gives, but the energy in going forward, and doing so creatively.

  22. While I understand the criticism of Berbatov as he has underperformed this season I think we need to bear some stuff in mind. Firstly, he had no pre-season with us. Then, he did OK August-Christmas and everyone was thinking “Oh no problem, we’ll see the player we spent £30 mil on after January”. Cue the team’s failure to produce anything up front and our reliance on defence to win games, when Berbatov (and all of our strikers) didn’t get many chances, piling pressure on each subsequent chance as they were relatively few and far between. I think a huge part of the problem has been the (relative) infrequency of us dominating in the final third, which has perhaps lead to a bit of a cycle where Berbatov drops deep for the ball, makes a pass and then, when the rest of the team is sprinting upfield as fast as possible,he strolls up. By the time he gets there, we’ve shot or lost the ball. While part of this is his fault, it’s also Fergie’s. He’s asking Berb to play as the support man to Rooney, and then asking the team to play a style that is fast and frantic with less passing around the penalty area. His lack of pace in comparison to the rest of the team means that to play this system he’d have to be leading the line. Personally I feel that our failure to adopt a more relaxed passing style and depend instead on breaking from midfield means that Berbatov’s presence on the pitch is often irrelevant. But we can’t fault Berbatov for being the type of player we knew we were buying, we have to fault Ferguson for not tinkering with the system to accomodate him.

    I’d also like to point out that had Hargreaves been fit this season we’d probably have been playing a midfield three of him, Carrick and Scholes/Anderson, designed for winning and keeping the ball in and around the penalty area. Instead, Hargreaves is out and so we’ve had to play a 442 to limit the matchtime of our central midfielders.

    It would be a huge mistake to sell Berbatov this summer, but his first season has been undeniably poor. But it’s important to remember that this is linked to the general inadequacy of the side this year up front and tactics that are frequently more reactive than assertive.

    Or perhaps it’s that he can’t do it at a big club. I hope not.

  23. @Grognard:
    Just as a quick point about Diego and Ribery. I haven’t seen a whole lot of either apart from the odd game (and highlights on youtube) and they look pretty good. But Ribery was poor at the Euros, and frequently players from the German and French leagues fail to step up to the level over here. I’m sure they are both quality, but you’d have to be wary buying either, let alone both, of them.

  24. @michael: Can you explain to me the tactics that you speak of. Are you saying that we react to the fact that we need to score a goal or two and so we substitute accordingly. Or is it that we are trying to play a game that doesn’t fit our personnel??

  25. @Red Ranter: He’s my Cylon double. 😆 Jeez, I clicked on the wrong name when I was intending it to Mr. Muhozi. Or is it code to my secret Grognard army who are planning a takeover? 😎

  26. @Jon: A central midfield of Carrick and Hargreaves would be nice. They still would play back too far but they would play better as a unit. That means Ronaldo and ???? on the wings playing up more and constituting a 4-2-2-2 or 4-2-2-1-1 formation. This requires men on the wing who have the ability and flexibility to play wide but also cut in. Unfortunately it also requires them to track back. Well, Ronaldo can do most of that. His tracking back is nothing to admire. So who is on the other wing? Ribery? Sanchez? Tosic? What I do know is it cannot be Park and Giggs. One is too useless in the attacking end and the other is too old and is actually more suited to the middle now. If Hargreaves returns we also know he is great on the right side, especially in a 4-4-3 formation. Hargreaves is such a key but I for one cannot count on his return as the savior. So we need to buy two players. Macheda hopefully still has time to convince Fergie the need for a striker is not there and that he can finally put his attention and spending money towards the midfield needs. I think he will stick with EVDS/Foster for one more season before he decides on a starting keeper, so really, the needs are pretty clear and tot he point. A versatile and highly creative wide midfielder/winger and a box to box midfielder or DMF. Personally, I would love to see Michael Essien in United red. His contract is up. It may seem like slim chance right now of him coming but much can happen before next season starts. Can you imagine a midfield with Essien, Hargreaves and Carrick? In that scenario I would play 4-3-3. Add Ribery to the wing with Ronaldo and Rooney in the middle and you have a super team.

    ———–EVDS———-

    Rafael–Rio–Vidic–Fabio

    Hargreaves–Carrick–Essien

    Ronaldo—-Rooney—-Ribery

    The greatness of that setup is that Hargo and Essien can play anywhere along the midfield and up front, Ronaldo and Ribery are interchangeable too. Something to fantasize about. Chances are we will never get either of those players but it just shows you what a few changes to this team could do to our overall look and attitude. And yes, Fabio would take over for Evra, unless of course Evra could regain his old form.

  27. @michael: Perhaps you should watch Ribery in the last World Cup. He was singularly the most outstanding player for France and by far the most consistent. I still laugh at Zidane winning the player of the tournament award as he was shite in the first round while Ribery did everything. Ribery is a magician and an artist. He has great skill and desire and he plays with pride. What has really improved since his World Cup days is his finishing. Now he can really strike a ball well and has great instincts for scoring.

    Diego is a tremendous player with great vision, balance and finesse. A great passer and a great striker of the ball. An expert on free kicks and a very passionate player. My only knock on him is he lacks the traditional pace you would expect a Brazilian to possess. Having said that he is much faster than Scholes, Fletcher, Carrick and Giggs. And his skill on the ball and with the ball is so superior to his countryman Anderson. The only thing Anderson has over Diego is his big fat ass for blocking off defenders. 😀

    I have watched these two many many times and I am sure they would both be a success in the EPL and most importantly, they would fit in well with our club as both offer a lot of what Fergie wants and looks for as well as a lot of what we all want and look for.

  28. @Redrich: The team has gone soft since Big Stein retired and left the team to his limp wristed son. All I know is the George Steinbrenner I know would have fired Girardi’s ass after that 22-4 loss at home. Another couple of weeks of the Yankees treading water and the call will come down to Little Stein to call the Grog for a hit. Somebody is going to get whacked. 😈 👿 😎

  29. @Grognard: That team looks absolutely splendid, Grog. We would be competing if not bullying any other team in Europe. One can imagine just how much we could perform with those changes.

    When you said Hargo is great on the right side in a 4-4-3 formation, I’m assuming you meant 4-4-2, and not Blatter digging himself deeper into shit by introducing a 12th player into regulations! I’m an advocate of 4-4-2 as I feel that is the way to go for attacking football, never fancied the European 4-5-1/4-3-3 crap though.

    Back to Hargo, I think he really could make it big time in RMF. He is a good crosser as we saw in the later phases of last season, and he has speed going up and down the wings, as well as being able to help tracking back and defending when needed. I think he could actually bring us an entirely different dimension of play than what we’ve been ‘enduring’ with Park and Nani and whoever else played opposite Ronaldo this season – they all suck, so I don’t remember.

    With Essien winning the ball and even scoring some long range blasters, Carrick could storm forward as he did in the very early games on this season and get in on rebounds and scraps from opponents’ scrappy defending. I think that the midfield you listed is superb, if it were in 4-4-2, and provided we can get Essien. Only problem is Ronaldo playing on the left, which I feel he is not as good in as compared to playing on the right. And we’d miss out on Ribery.

    But really, I think Hargo has just as much to offer on the wing, provided we buy a new strong midfielder to play alongside Carrick.

  30. CORRECTION:
    It seems like a lot of you are upset about yesterday’s game for a couple of reasons:
    1. No Nani on the field
    2. Rio/Vidic shooting penals
    3. Berba’s penalty shot

    To answer with my opinion of the selections, I have the following:
    1. With Rafael and Fabio on the WB positions, we cannot afford to have Nani on the pitch due to Nani’s poor defending record and the twins often being out of position. Yes, Park is no Nani offensively but he is more than capable of running back to defend when needed and makes up for the twins being out of position. I agree with Nani being left out. Please sell Nani for 10+ mils use the money toward Ribery or someone with real ball-skills 😉
    2. I am torn on this one. I don’t understand why Fergie put his trust in the Kids to win the game but not to take a penalty… on the other hand, having any of our youngersters take a penalty and miss could great affect their development and self-confidence, whereas the elders know how to deal with this. I would not know what to do here and place my trust with Fergie. In Fergie I trust.
    3. A penalty is a penalty. It is very much a question of luck when it comes to penalties. Yes, he hit it weakly, but even if he had given it some mustard, Howard cowered the bottom corner and (actually) did well saving the penalty. Yes it is a sour pill to swallow but ____ happens. Can’t score all the time – ask Ronaldo about Nou Camp.

    Regarding Berba, I am disappointed that he came with such promise but has yet to shine. However, Fergie knows how to fix this team more than anyone (even Grognard 🙂 ) so I will put my trust in him

    Lastly, is anyone else VERY worried about the debt we are currently in? Every day I find small articles and references to our financial situation and it looks bad… REAL BAD. Has anyone done a simple-to-read explanation of our finances and how it all works. Most importantly, I am worried about the lack of transparency from the Glazer’s… that is why I am still following FC United of Manchester!

  31. BTW. This site is really becoming something great. Keep it up RR and whoever is helping him.

    You all make me proud to be a Red Devil.

  32. @Madschester United: Hi there bro. Your points were carefully considered and thought out. I thought they were a calm headed and maybe analytical approach to the issues addressed as opposed to ranting on how Fergie has lost his marbles. Hope you’ll allow me to add on to some of your points. 🙂

    I would have actually played Nani instead of Welbeck and kept Park. And for all that talk about Fabio and Rafael getting caught out, I hardly noticed that happening…maybe it’s because of the cover they were given, but I believe that they are more mature than to leave themselves exposed, and that they can juggle between attacking and defending. And even if they were caught out, their pace to track back made up for whatever mistakes they made.

    I felt the only plus in playing Welbeck was his understanding with Macheda. The two played some good exchanges, and were looking a deadly threat to the otherwise steady Everton defense. However, I noticed that it was always Welbeck that was on the final end of the exchanges, and he was pushed out far out onto the left wing, and that’s where he really struggled. I was hoping that Macheda would get onto one of those final exchanges with an open space in front of him, but that never materialised. What Nani could have added to play was his crossing. Recently it has been godawful, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have blasted his crosses into the stand, as Welbeck was seen doing on more than one occasion.

    No, I do not believe missing a penalty would damage a youngster’s confidence that badly as to shatter them. If Nani and Anderson could handle taking their first penalties in Moscow, I’m sure Welbeck could have slotted one home; he is a very good finisher. And of course, don’t get me started on how Scholes and Tevez didn’t take penalties.

    I don’t think Howard took much effort to save his shot. He had completely committed to his right corner, and it was his outsticking legs that saved Berba’s pussy of a shot. And yeah, we can’t win all the time. Time to move on. Cheers mate! 😀

  33. @Jon: I actually meant 4-3-3 and not 4-4-2. As for Ronaldo and Ribery, they can play either side very well so if one way isn’t working, they can always change up. And the great thing about a player like Essien is he can go box to box which can allow Carrick to be conservative and stay back, or go forward depending on the opposition setup and lineup.

    Now I do not think we will ever get Essien but if we were to sign a Senna, DeRossi or similar kind of DMF, this would free up Carrick to be more attack oriented. If we were to sign a Diego, Sneijder or Schweinsteiger type, then Carrick could continue to play back more and also get support from Hargo. Either way leaves little room for the Scholes’, Fletcher’s, Giggs’ and Anderson’s of the world. Is Fergie ready and brave enough to realize that these players either are too old, not good enough or not consistent enough to be starters on a club like this. I still like Giggs enough to not demand he retire or be sold. I still think he can contribute but not as an everyday starter.

    When it all comes down to it I see us buying Antoni Valencia and maybe one or two no name prospects. Fergie clearly seems content with this team and what he has done to it and he isn’t seeing things the way I am. Fergie doesn’t much care for supporter run rant sites like this. Too many people like me telling him what to do and pointing out his weaknesses. The old Gaffer just can’t handle the Grognard making more sense than him. 😀

  34. @Madschester United:

    “However, Fergie knows how to fix this team more than anyone (even Grognard 🙂 ) so I will put my trust in him”

    Are you sure mate? Sounds like there might be a little doubt in your heart. 😀 😉 You know Grognard should be the next manager. 😀

  35. @Jon: I just thought you might like to see what I would like to see as my ultimate starting eleven dream team.

    First Choice;
    GK – Rene Adler
    RB – Rafael
    CB – Rio
    CB – Vidic
    LB – Lahm
    RMF – Ronaldo
    LMF – Ribery
    CMF – Hargreaves
    AMF – Ballack
    ST – Rooney
    ST – Huntelaar

    Second Choice;
    GK – Boruc
    RB – Rafael
    CB – Rio
    CB – Vidic
    LB – Fabio
    RMF – Ronaldo
    LMF – Marin
    CMF – Essien
    DMF – Hargreaves
    ST – Rooney
    ST – Aguero

    The ultimate player I would want on United but the one player I can guarantee 100% will never be a United player is Juan Roman Riquelme.
    For me there are only 5 certainties on the team. Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Hargreaves, Ronaldo and Rooney.

    Ah if only life imitated Fifa 09 or Football Manager 09? 🙁 😀

  36. @Grognard: God knows how delighted I’d be if we ever signed Lahm. What a magnificent player, probably the only left wing back with such a good long shot. Unless of course, Fabio can come up with more hat-tricks like he’s been conjuring up in reserves, Lahm is able, quick and young, and a fantastic buy if we ever made one.

    My knowledge of goalkeepers isn’t good, Grog, so I don’t really know much about Adler or Boruc, just heard abit about them. I’d fancy Adler or maybe Neuer more than Boruc. Whatever it is, I do hope we dont have to rely on Foster anytime soon. He takes ages to clear his ball, doesn’t look confident in dealing with defenders in his area, but he is a good shot stopper.

    I would prefer Huntelaar over Aguero, as I don’t mind us returning to the RVN days of a good proper striker. I hear Aguero is more of a Tevez player? Correct me if I’m wrong. 😉

    If life were really like FIFA 09 or FM, I’d be running up and down the wings myself with the ‘Create A Player’ mode. Fancy joining me? 😆

  37. Brilliant article Stephen (and brilliant first comment other Stephen 🙂 ).
    Haven’t gone through all the posts. Seems like everybody says the same things (those for and those against Berbatov). I made a decision a few months ago on this blog that I will reserve my criticism/assessment for Berbatov until after this season, and I will stick to it.

    I would like to point out one little thing however that might add another dimension to the Berbatov saga. I have a feeling that Fergie is waiting on Ronaldo to make up his mind before sorting out the Tevez saga. I have a feeling that should Ronaldo leave, then Berbatov, Tevez and Rooney will be our new front men of an attacking interchaning 3 (it appears that we can kiss 442 goodbye). I really think that this can work for us and that we will see a much different Berbatov. I also believe that with a consistent midfield trio of Hargo, Carrick and Ando to complement them, we will also see a different Ando. If I look at it in this way, then it seems like Ronaldo is the one messing up our system. Thing is, he is the best player in the world so how can you leave him out. I love Ronaldo to bits, but I think for the benefit of the team, the cheapest way to fix our team will be to let him go pursue his dream.
    So, if I were SAF, then my changes for next season would be:
    1. Sell Ronaldo (for nothing less than 75m)
    2. Get Campbell back from loan and let him fight it out with Macheda/Wellbeck to provide us a different dimension
    3. Sell Nani 🙁 (it’s actually for his own benefit and development) because he will enjoy a part-time appearance (with Tosic) for the few games we would then go 442, and I don’t see him developing under such circumstances. (Then again he has a good enough finnish to substitute for Rooney/Tevez).

  38. Here’s what I’d like to happen.

    SALES
    1. Our transfer budget is the usual £30mil base.
    2. Sell Nani. Spurs would pay £20mil for him easy. Not that I want to, but it’s obvious SAF is over him.
    3. If we can get £25mil for Berbatov, let him go. He’s good, but not what we need.
    4. Let Tevez go. We have Rooney.
    5. Neville, Scholes and Giggs to accept smaller roles.
    6. Sell O’Shea. We have ample cover in all areas with the new kids, and I’d rather he wasn’t holding anyone back. 4th choice in every position he plays.
    7. Welbeck out on loan.

    PURCHASES
    1. Buy Ribery for £30mil. I don’t wee why he would be more. He’s a player who wants out.
    2. Buy Benzema for £30 million. There is a £15mil contingency over both the transfers should Madrid or Barcelona bid it up, but Madrid will have Tevez, so no need for either of them. Barca might bid for Ribery.. Maybe.

    VDS
    Brown Ferdinand Vidic Evra
    Ronaldo Carrick Hargreaves Ribery
    Rooney Benzema

    SUB: Foster, Evans, Raphael/Fabio, Anderson, Park, Fletcher, Campbell.

    Raphael and Fabio would provide back up on the wings as well as full back positions. Overall, our bench would be weaker, but our first team much stronger. And that’s a bench that Scholes and Giggs can be brought into if experience is needed. But that’s a balanced team with an emphasis on youth and totally obtainable. If we had the funds to keep Nani in that squad I’d love to, but I think it’s a necessary loss.

    The greater good.

  39. In addition to player transfers, I would like Phelan demoted back to First team Coach. Queiroz scientific and theoretical mind was a perfect complement to SAF, and cleary the players arent responding in kind to Phelans training methods or his ideas, all of which seem totally void of creativity, …although I’m sure most of it is actually engineered by Rene, who in my view would have been a better choice for the number 2 spot.

    Scholes, Neville, EVDS retiring, Tevez being replaced, Ronaldo being granted his “dream” move and SAF retiring would complete my summer.

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