Is there a more frustrating footballer than Dimitar Berbatov? Genius one minute, disinterested the next. Whilst others rush to praise him following his five goals in a stunning display against Blackburn I refuse to jump on the bandwagon, I’m yet to be won over and I shall explain why.
Roll back the clock 24 hours. Friday night and it was 68 days since Berbatov’s brilliant hat-trick against Liverpool. For any striker at any level that’s some drought, even Diego Forlan would be a bit jealous. If one were to ignore his hat-trick against Liverpool and his five goal haul today he’d have 3 goals in 11 league games or 4 goals in 15 games in all competitions. Nothing substantial, definitely not the return that any striker at a big club would be aiming for. I reckon that had I run a poll yesterday titled “should a good bid for Berbatov come in, would you accept it?” the majority of people would vote ‘yes’. Run the same poll now and there’d be a very different answer.
Before today he’d played 102 games for United, the same number he played for Spurs. Yet in 102 games for Spurs he scored 46 goals, for United only 33. Why he’s struggled at United is not for me to try to unravel in this blog for in the spirit of my recent Anderson campaign I should make the effort to be positive about Berbatov. The fact is however is that he is not consistent enough and does not score enough goals. He was fantastic today as he was against Liverpool but a performance like that seems to come round once in a blue moon. I’d rather he scored one goal today and spread out his other goals over other games rather than score them all in one game.
The remarkable thing about Berbatov is that he has ability that Old Trafford hasn’t seen since Cantona. He is so easy on the ball and at times does something that you just don’t think is possible. Unlike Cantona though he disappears. His impact on games is often pretty unnoticeable. The fans quite correctly have gotten on his back, as much as we like to be entertained, the result comes first and if he as a striker isn’t getting the goals to get the wins then he’s not doing his job.
Why write this then? Well during the game today there seemed to be a lot of praise for Berbatov – quite right as well. However there was a growing faction stating that Berbatov had now proved his doubters wrong – quite wrong. One game won’t change the fact that Berbatov’s overriding contribution to this season is confined to two games. This blog isn’t aiming to take Berbatov to the slaughterhouse though. Rather I am airing caution whilst giving praise. I wouldn’t like to wait another 2+ months for his next meaningful contribution to the team – which essentially is judged on goals. I would love to see Berbatov take this form into the next league game against Blackpool and keep his scoring run going. Importantly, he clicked with Rooney today, this partnership has to continue to flourish. Too many times after a game I’ve heard and read ‘this will be the making of Berbatov, he’ll go on from here’ – well this time it has to be. He’s thrown himself a lifeline which he has to grab.
As I started off by saying, I refuse to be fooled by one stunning showing against poor opposition. Berbatov has to prove this wasn’t a one off genius performance. Next time out he must show the same commitment and the same drive. He’s set the standard once again, rather than let it drop like he did after the Liverpool game he must strive to hit these high levels regularly.
The tally of 12 goals he has this season equals his total amount for the whole of last year and leaves him two short of the 14 he got in his first season. Ultimately 20-25 goals this season will be a success but his contribution overall will always be questioned. His five goals today has provided us with a stunning memory, it’ll be talked about for years just like Cole vs. Ipswich – the real challenge now is to provide us with a better memory than those already made. Dimitar must deliver more, today isn’t good enough if he’s going to go limp again.
I’m purposely not running a poll in this blog as I don’t want reactionary votes. I’d rather people expressed their feelings by commenting below. Berbatov is a flawed genius, only he could score a hat-trick against Liverpool and then not score or perform well enough for two months; I pray he comes through, delivers and builds upon today. I don’t want to find myself writing an obituary for him any time soon, rather let’s hope my next review of him will be praising the superstar striker that United thought they’d signed.