Is this the end of the Dimitar Berbatov era for Manchester United? If you asked the club you’d likely get an astounding no, but the actions of the club sing a much more different tune.
While no one expected Berbatov to replace Rooney as the club’s talisman when he was brought in from Tottenham, he was expected to become an accomplished regular starter. Instead, Dimitar had become a polarizing figure at Old Trafford being a giant enigma of talent and production. Last season he began reaching that potential and finished the season tied with former teammate Carlos Tevez for the league lead in goals scored. However, the emergence of Javier Hernandez as a major goal threat drastically declined Berbatov’s playing time as the season went on throughout 2010-11. Yet, throughout the pre-season for the 2011-12 campaign you wouldn’t know that Berbatov was still able to tie the league lead in goals without being a full-time starter. Berbatov used the 2010 pre-season to jump start his high scoring season, but did not really get the opportunity in the 2011 pre-season.
Much of this has been due to the emergence of Danny Welbeck who besides recently being called into the England national team ahead of more veteran presences such as Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe, was selected to start over Berbatov in the club’s battle for the Community Shield against rival Manchester City. Berbatov managed to come on in the 89th minute, but that is nowhere near the minutes he would like to be receiving and on top of that Hernandez was still sidelined with the concussion injury he sustained in the states.
The problem may arise that Berbatov will struggle as a “super sub”, in that his laid back (and often criticized) style do not fit the urgency that is often needed by a striker coming on in that capacity. The other problem will be Berbatov’s lack of versatility, while Welbeck is capable of playing out wide and as a striker and Rooney seems capable of playing basically anywhere on the pitch, Dimitar is best served flicking cheeky back heels to teammates running on or using his deft touch to poach home goals.
Mix in the problem that behind him on the depth chart that there is quality and you may be seeing less and less of Berbatov in the coming year. Michael Owen has shown loyalty to Sir Alex’s signing, sticking around despite very limited minutes and the youngsters Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda (despite the Fiorentina rumors) have potential and will need to get minutes to continue developing if they are not put on loan again.
Is this the way Berbatov expected to be treated, especially after retiring internationally so he could focus on his club performances and opening last season on a tear? You would think not, but such is the world of high end club football.
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