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A saga lasting close to a year has finally ended, Dimitar Berbatov has been sold by United and will join Fulham for a fee reported to be no more than £4m. The bizarre transfer ordeal saw him set to sign for Fiorentina then Juventus before Fulham stepped in to reunite him with Martin Jol.
Upon joining deep into deadline day in the summer of 2008, I couldn’t have been happier. Dimitar was the player that I and lots of United fans wanted to complete the team. He’d add class to us and be the difference in the tight games. Unfortunately that was never to be the case.
Berbatov has been both an entertainer and a frustration. The genius of his touch, calmness and vision were too often compounded by anonymity. Berbatov’s not a lazy player but his style has often felt out of place at United. Rather than being the fulcrum to passages of play he’d be on the periphery of moves and rarely settled or formed a partnership with any one of United’s strikers.
Eulogies to his control alone will be written but the unfortunate facts are that he didn’t deliver. Maybe it’s been similar to the Veron transfer – a brilliant footballer used in completely the wrong way. There are similarities between the two though – better than many would have you believe but just not right for the club, at least not at the time they were employees.
Strikers are naturally judged on goals and Berbatov delivered some memorable ones (the overhead kick against Liverpool for example). During the 2010/11 season he was vital to the league title success, scoring 20 goals but even then, there were doubters (myself included). The volume of goals was perfect but he scored 11 of them in just three games which highlighted a disappointing inconsistency on his part. Europe may have been where he was most disappointing as he went over three years without a goal in the Champions League; unfortunately compounding the theory that he often failed to deliver in big games (the stats back that up).
Ideally, he’d have been sold last summer. It seemed unfair on him that he’d feature so little last season as Welbeck and Hernandez forced him into fourth choice. United seemed intent on having him around – maybe for an injury crisis that never quite hit our strikers, or maybe so they could extend his contract by a year in the hope of getting a better fee (that hasn’t worked). Credit to the player though, there was no moaning from his part other than honest murmurings that he wanted to play more – he simply continued to train and play when called upon.
Some will mourn his loss, others will feel relieved that’s moved on – this is a player who’s completely split opinions on fans for most of his spell at the club. Personally, I’ll just be disappointed that someone I wanted to love never became a perfect fit for the club. Best of luck to Dimitar and thanks for the magic moments; regular football is the minimum he and his professional attitude deserve – at least he’s not gone too far away.