Hello Dimitar, Bye Bye Carlos?

Dimitar Berbatov is a sublime forward with many gifts that will, no doubt, push United forward and challenge for both the Premier League and Champions League. However, will the purchase of the Bulgarian come at a costs of losing out on the permanent purchase of an Argentinian. Carlos Tevez signed for United, on loan, in August 2007 in a transfer wrangle that would have rivaled both Ronaldo’s and Berbatov’s ordeals this summer. However, let this not be forgotten, that our number 32 is still only on loan till next season. There have been reports of a permanent record breaking transfer, however this has not yet been finalised.

Carlos Tevez scored so many vital goals last season

Carlos Tevez is a world class forward that was a vital part of our success last term and it would be a massive loss if we did not retain his services for the next few season. We already know that he isn’t going to be United for years to come – which is acceptable, he gives his heart and soul for United and was superb against both Portsmouth and Zenit St Petersburg recently. However, after the Berbatov signing, can we merit forking out another 32 Million pounds? Remember, there will be no shortage of takers for the former South American footballer of the year – with Chelsea or our good friends Real Madrid.

The concerns that I raised last week were not against the judgement of the gaffer regarding Berbatov or the qualities of the Bulgarian forward – it was merely in support of our unique style of play and for the man who may miss out on playing time – Carlos Tevez. Of course a large squad, of quality, is needed to succeed at top level football – thats a given – but in Rooney, Tevez and Berbatov we have three of the best forwards in the league and I do not believe that the three can be accommodated in the same side.

Some fans and journos have also suggest that the Berbatov deal means that Ronaldo is going – which is a load of rubbish. Why on earth would Fergie fight tooth and nail to keep the boy at Old Trafford, to only lose him 6/12 months later – having recovered from injury? I believe that Fergie will want to line up with Ronaldo on one flank, Carrick and Scholes in the middle of the park, with Nani, Hargreaves or Park occupying the other side. Which leaves two spots up top, which means that one out the three will miss out. On the basis of form, Berbatov hasn’t played – but of course he’ll play having spent so much on the player, Rooney had a decent game against Portsmouth but has not looked as impressive as Tevez did in the two games they’ve played together.

So who should start? We ran a poll last week and you voted in your droves with the selection of all three strikers leading with 33%. Surprisingly, for me anyway, Tevez and Berbatov was second with 28%, whilst Rooney and Berbatov was in third with 22% and last was our pairing from last year in Rooney and Tevez with 16%. I am intrigued to see how all three could line up together and i’m sure at some point of the season they will but with Ronaldo coming back from injury can all of this attacking talent play together? Ronaldo can never be considered a midfielder. He is an forward, who can put both the fullback and winger (if playing a 4-4-2) on the back foot and allow United to press on even further. The best way, although much easier said than done, is to force Ronaldo back into his own half – as done by Clichy at the Emirates this season. With the attacking freedom that Ronaldo is given, is it really a possibility that all three strikers can play together?

Rooney and Tevez struck up a devastating partnership in 2007/08

A major part of this is the form of Wayne Rooney, who over the past couple of seasons has had some raised eyebrows – unfairly in my eyes. I’ve spoken before about Rooney’s work rate and movement that is so vital to the success of United over the past two seasons. When Wayne Rooney was on the pitch, with the exception of the Portsmouth FA Cup game last season, Manchester United didn’t lose a game.

I’ve heard people spout nonsense like ‘Manchester United ruined Rooney’ or ‘He’s not the player he used to be’. I literally am bamboozled by such remarks. When Rooney signed for United in 2004 he was a young international starlet who was coming into a side that was in transition – that he would then become part of. He, single handedly at times, lead the line so well in that season when Ruud VanNistelrooy was injured and played a massive role in the 4-2 win at Highbury, which ironically – considering his current climate – was overshadowed by a brace from Ronaldo. I believe Rooney is a worldclass player with sublime vision, great strength and desire to succeed. He is also capable of scoring a decent amount of goals with a vast amount of quality.

I’m both intrigued and excited as to how Fergie will line us up over the next few weeks and I have no doubt that Berbatov will be a success – but hopefully not at the cost of losing Carlos Tevez.

Berbatov is going to be a success at United but can all three line up together?

So please leave a comment as to how United will line up over the next few weeks (with or without Ronaldo) and your thoughts on Carlos Tevez – am I making an issue out of nothing? If all three line up at Anfield, will it be Rooney that adopts a left sided role? Looking forward to seeing your lineups.

21 Comments on Hello Dimitar, Bye Bye Carlos?

  1. According to David Gills radio 5 live interview yesterday, he said that the only other transfer business they will be doing this summer, is concluding the permanent transfer of Carlos Tevez. The Apache deal will be finalised in the near future. Soooooo, Carlos will be staying. On present form, Carlos should be in the team ahead of Wayne, because the Roon is off the mark lately with regards to goalscoring. I think Fergie will play all 3 together, Berba, Roon and Tev. But Gill said that they believe Manucho is also going to be a great player for United, and they can’t wait for him to be avaiable for selection. He is very near to full fitness, has his work permit, and Fergie believes we have now got 4 great attackers to equal the Cole/Yorke/Sheringham/Ole S era. Bring it on I say.

  2. All three can easily be slotted into a side containing Ronaldo. It’s a very attacking unit, but given Rooney and Tevez’s work rate it can easily work. Here’s the formation I think would work well –

    Neville/Brown Ferdinand Vidic Evra


    Ronaldo Nani/Giggs
    Tevez Rooney


    With one holding midfielder in place the engine room looks a bit light on, but given that both Rooney and Tevez are natural terriers who will chase the ball from one of the field to another playing them deeper in their natural positions as second strikers either side of Berbatov gives them the opportunity to lend a hand in the center of the pitch, almost like the Paul Scholes of old. In bigger matches Fergie may well drop both Rooney and Tevez to give greater depth to the middle of the field and simply play Berbatov as a sole striker, a role for which he is supremely well suited, unlike the other two strikers. And with Manucho as the wild card int he pack, who knows where United may go up front by season’s end. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

  3. PS – Sorry for the confusion on the player lineup. It didn’t come out on the site as I wrote it up, with all the selections nicely spaced out. Now it looks like I’ve slotted in 14 odd players, instead of giving alternatives in a few key positions. Neville/Brown were one pair of alternatives, One player was to be selected from Hargreaves/Anderson/Carrick, and Nani/Giggs could only fill one position between them as well.

  4. I don’t think Carlos will be going anywhere firstly, but I think that they will all play together especially at home. people seem to believe that we play 4-4-2, but I disagree. As I have said on many different posts I think Sir Alex has been trying to recreate the Real Madrid blueprint ever since we got Ruud Van and they beat us at, in that semi final. That was to me, and I believe to Sir Alex the most potent attacking formation seen in his 20+ year reign. We have Figo, Ronaldo, Raul, R. Carlos, and the two holding in midfield. What he was messing was Zidane. Last season Rooney to me played up front on his own, but was able to change position with any of the other attacking three players at any time. in a 4-2-3-1. Berba will now play the 1 and have the three in Tev, Roon, and Ronnie in a continuation of last season. My only worry is who plays in the two holding. Scholes needs Carrick to play well imho, as he reads Scholes game well and stays as his second pass, but when hargreaves and Anderson play we look much more powerful, and dynamic. For me it is Anda and Owen.

  5. I think you could play all 3. I’ve always thought Rooney could play in Scholes position. It might even be the position most suited to him. Trouble would be squeezing Anderson in then as he also suits that position I think. They could be rotated based on form and Rooney could also be used up front with 2 of Rooney Tevez and Berba, those playing depending on the game

  6. Some great feedback guys and I hate to be the killjoy that discusses this issue as I do think we play our best football when we attack and get at teams – but I just can’t see Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez and Berbatov playing in big matches – maybe the same way Henry, Messi, Ronaldinho and Etoo never played together.

    bertie – I personally don’t believe Rooney can play as a centre midfielder and have the same impact Paul Scholes can have on a football pitch. I believe Rooney is at best when he has a free roll of the front man and he can go about the pitch, create and bring defenders with him.

    issakk – Good post and I was going to say that the 4-2-3-1 is probably the only formation that we could play with all four – with Rooney out wide left (do you agree?). However I am confused by your post as your refer to the Real Madrid players as ‘we’ (We have Figo, Ronaldo, Raul, R. Carlos). Are you a Red or a Madridista? I don’t know if Fergie is envious of that attacking quartet – which could be why they didn’t win much when they played together (they went out in the next round to Juventus, who we beat 3-0 in Turin) – if not for a blundering Barthez we would have won that.

  7. No m8 United to the floor. What I mean’t was Figo (Ronnie) Ronaldo, (Wayne) Raul (Big Tev) and R. Carlos (Patrice). I also think that the Real Madrid side never had Rio, Vid? I don’t think that Sir Alex can retire untill has has one of the all time great sides in the history of the Champs League. We have always had winning sides with great mentalities, but we have never had a great footballing side. In the last three seasons, there have been flashes of it. Roma 7-1 and Aston Villa last season. What I mean is when the team let the ball do the work, when they play in fifth gear. When Big Tev and Wayne are not chasing after the ball and we are clapping in the stands after the game talking about the work-rate. when Wayne plays with the nonchalance he played with at 18 and Big Tev plays like his plays when he’s with argentina. (there are differences m8 beleive me) Also when Ronni uses his teamates instead of having a pop whenever he gets the ball. Even Wayne said it after the Aston Villa game “its like playing for Brazil when we play like that” Even with the sides that Sir Alex has produced, can you honestly say that we have had a better footballing team than the untouchables? Barca 04-06? or that Real madrid side? I honestly think that Berba will will take us up with those side in terms of football, He will bring out the flicks and backheels in Wayne and Big Tev, and ultimately, will keep Ronnie out of the clutches of real madrid, i think sometimes last season Ronnie got fustrasted with Waz and Tev as they weren’t producing the flicks and backheels at the same rate as he was.

  8. Sorry mate I disagree immensely with the ‘good football’ remark. I think United play some amazing football that even betters that of the Arsenal side in 2004 or Barcelona in 2006. United have always had a reputation for playing good, attacking, attractive football and I subscribe to that.

    Rooney and Tevez were superb last season and I doubt that adding a little bit of flair to their game would have enhanced it even more to be honest – their movement allowed Ronaldo to score so many goals.

    Also that Madrid side you refer to didn’t win anything for a number of season when Beckham joined. They made some horrendous signings in Walter Samuel and Woodgate and to be honest I don’t think Fergie looks at that side with envy. United are in a much better position now and I think we can only get stronger.

  9. completely agree with issakk.
    i’ve felt that united were hit or miss all of last season. when things ‘clicked’, we could be the best team on the planet. the players would find each other effortlessly and tear through defences at will.
    however, this happened infrequently. more often than not, it would be a piece of brilliance (usually by ronaldo) which would win us the game.
    i actually think we played better the season before, especially when saha was playing. i remember we won 3 or 4 games 4-0 on the trot or something ridiculous like that.
    i think the difference might partly be attributed to poor finishing, but i do think its more than that. i still don’t think tevez and rooney play very well together, especially without ronaldo. if tevez and rooney are good together, it is because they are both wonderful footballers. they do produce certain moments of genius (likle the goal against wigan), however, the total is less than the sum of its parts.
    hopefully berbatov’s addition will help us in this regard. he truly has the best first touch i have seen in a long time, and might get the forwards playing together the way scholesy can keep the midfield ticking.

  10. Great blog, addressing a real point, although I think any possible fee for Tevez has long since been budgeted for and won’t affect any other spending. I seem to recall Gill saying as much.

    Whether all 3 can play together, well, I will say I doubt it. But neither could Sheringham, Cole and Yorke. With those three strikers we won the title 3 years in a row, and there were no grumbles of discontent as all knew they would get playing time. At times last season Rooney and Tevez looked tired (fair play, Rooney had injuries and Tevez had no pre-season), and the Berbatov signing is to counter that and give us a plan B. A plan B that would perhaps have forced the ball in the net when we battered Pompey in the Cup, for example.

    Issakk, I have to say mate, I don’t know what planet you are on saying “we have always had winning sides with great mentalities, but we have never had a great footballing side.”

    Fair play, it’s your opinion, but where were you last autumn? The football played against Wigan, Villa, Kiev and Boro was some of the best I’ve ever seen, then there were the games against Sunderland, both Newcastle games, the return Villa game, Liverpool, and the second half against Arsenal. No other team played football on that level all season (I’m not including battering Derby here), so I’m curious to what you’re using as a comparison? Even looking back before Fergie’s reign, how can you say United never had a great footballing side? The 68 final? Law, Best and Charlton combining to batter Real? Best skinning 8 defenders before scoring? If one of your players is taking his boot off to take the mick out of a defender, that suggests to me that he is playing at a different level.

    If you’re honestly using the Roma 7-1 as an example of what we should be playing like every week then I’ve got to question your common sense a little bit! The Roma game was one of those flukes, where everything came together. The kind of result that sticks out in a generation. That’s what makes it so special. The thing that stands out is when United play in 5th gear they can do that to any team in the world. Do any other team play football as good as the performance against Roma on a regular basis?

    I can see where you’re coming from in terms of “well, if they CAN do it, why don’t they do it more often?” but it would be naive to truly think like that on realistic terms. Some of the team goals we scored last season were simply sensational.

    This United side is every bit as good as the Barca side of 04-06, and has already proven itself to be better than “the untouchables”. It’s not about how many games you don’t lose in a league season, it’s about how many trophies you win at the end of a season. Chelsea’s side of 2005 lost only one game playing not to lose. United play to win in every minute of every game.

    One final point, I think you’re a little naive suggesting Ronaldo was frustrated last season. The entire team played around him and for him. The only time I saw him frustrated was when he couldn’t score (the Kiev and Derby games are prime examples).

    I agree that Berbatov could potentially add another string to Tevez and Rooney’s bow, and I look forward to seeing that in action.

    Hopefully starting at Anfield!!

  11. The arrival of Berbatov creates so many options and he’s such a good player it has to be be good news. I think we’ll find some surprising experiments, especially in the last 20 minutes of matches, either when we’re desperate to retrieve a match, or when it’s safe to try things out. For example, just as Fergie surprised people when he suddenly started playing Hargreaves out wide on the right, I suspect Tevez will sometimes appear there. He’s got pace, guts, can beat fullbacks, and he can burts into the box from that position, which would leave Berba & Rooney in the (notional ) middle. Placing him on the right sometimes would add width, and increase the sheer, free-wheeling, free-spririted interchanging forward play that is so exciting when it works. Of course I’m not saying Tevez should be permanaently put out on the flank, just pointing this out as one of almost countless options, which is what the modern game requires. It’s noticeable how Fergie keeps going on about the 4 strikers he had in ’99, and he’s right of course. The joy of the Cole/ Yorke/ Solskjaer/ Sheringham line-up is how different they all were (great to see Teddy scoring at Wembley one last time last night in SoccerAid ) , singly or in any given combination. That’s why we won so many games late on, because there was always a new tactic to try from the bench. Most top players now understand that it’s squads that win trophies, not Big Fishes in Small Ponds.Sheringham was possibly 4th choice for much of his career at United, and he was often frustrated no doubt, but now he can look back with more pride in his United time than any other spell elsewhere, knowing he left as a legend, plus he could point to his Player of the Year trophy. Berba clearly knows that, and that’s why he chose United when he could have gone to a small but rich club in Moss Side.

  12. Simple, play the way most European teams line up these days with a
    4-2-3-1 formation like so….

    Brown Rio Vidic Evra

    Carrick Anderson

    Ronaldo Tevez Rooney


    With evra providing width down the left as always when attacking, and one of tevez or rooney at any time helping to defend down that side the balance is there, but still allows Rooney and Tevez to attack through the middle, as they like doing.

  13. Man U will be devastating over Berbetov’s acquisition and I am of the opinion the Tead Devils would have already won the leage with seven games to end the season.I don’t like hearing Carlos Tevez may leave Old Trafford. To where? If I may ask. Man United can afford to keep any player they want and Tevez is one for keeps having scored crucial goals for the champions of England and Europe.The Argentine is loving every bit of his stay at the Theartre of Dreams and we are surely going to break the bank to make his loan deal permanent.

  14. Giles Oakley – Some great points there mate and I do agree that the quality that he has will really aid us this season. I do think the comparisons with the 99 strike force aren’t too fair – due to how different the players are. Cole was and out and out striker, Ole, in his earlier days, always played as a striker with Sheringham and Yorke playing off the main striker. I think that our foursome of Berbatov, Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez are of better quality and i’m hoping that the four of them will play together – however it will be such an offensive lineup.

    Tom – Agree with the formation – proved to be a great success at Euro 2008 with nearly every team in the latter stages using it (do you know Austria were the only side to use a 3 man defense – look where that got them). Would there be no place for Scholes/Hargreaves in your starting lineup?

    Godwin Aikigbe – I agree I don’t like hearing about Tevez leaving United thats why I wrote the blog. But we must face facts that currently, believe me I think he will sign, he is still on loan – which runs out next summer. With the current transfer climate – I wouldn’t rule anything out. I hope he does sign – I think he is pure class.

  15. I think Rooney will be dropped with Tevez playing off Berbatov. Ferguson has already signalled this by accepting the blame for Rooney’s poor form as a result of being played out of position.

    As it result the first choice team is Van Der Saar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Nani, Tevez, Berbatov with subs from Foster, Neville, Raphael, Anderson, Hargreaves, Giggs, Rooney, and Manucho.

    However I personally would play Hargreaves or Anderson in midfield instead of Carrick.

  16. Yolkie /Streford end .

    I agree with some of the points that you make my friends, but you can’t let loyalty get in the way, of being objective.
    Our best footballing season was 06/07, when the the players had no idea what to expect for themselves in terms of what they are capable of.
    The target man aspect of saha in the season, oly stepping in larson stepping in alan smith? Our entire concept of football in the last three years has been based on deception. Roone on one wing one minute and the other wing the next then behind you at the back post scoring. A solid defence, the ability to go anywhere in the world and win one nil. we are a little bit of everyone in the top four, Observers like chelsea, one touch passes like arsenal, and seige mentality at home like Liverpool. That is why we won like we did. No united team in Sir Alex’s reign has been able to do that. we have usually had to rely on great european nights at OT to get thru. Its a brand new philosophy now fellas, Make no mistake we would not have done that without the talent of ronaldo or the defence. ? question is m8 are we a great team or a team of great players? Alast season we were a team of great players with a great menatlity capable of godly footabll, adaptable, resilient, with a well round club. There was a piece missing and to me that piece was berbatov. Someone to tell Rooney and tevez to calm down on the ball
    the same way that Cantona did in the 95/96 season with beckham and scholes etc. He is not just there to score goals in my opinion. he was bought for his experience and composure as much as anything.
    People think Rooney plays well when he’s charging around the pitch, I dont m8 I will never say that he hides behind hard work but to have the attitude to just give it to Ronaldo (on some occasions ) is not what I want to see from Roon. Rooney is the sides heart beat Ronaldo the inspiration and Rio Vid the backbone Berba will force Roon to become what he’s supposed to be and stop Ronaldo from monoplolising the ball.

  17. One last point, I forgot The greatest sides win with style, not just win, not just play great football. we are the only side with the capabilities to do it. There are no more weaknesses in this side. to do that Roon must relise his potential and use it. He is the only one we havent seen the best of and I dont want it to past him by

  18. Issakk – you have put your points across very well – some I disagree with but the majority I see where you’re coming from.

    First and foremost – I agree, I want to see United win and win with style, which I believe we can achieve. However, this cannot be achieved every game and I believe that we do have their desire to grind out a result if need be, a quality that Arsenal may lack whereas that seems to be what Chelsea do on a weekly basis. So i’m in no doubt that United did do that last season – however I believe it is a positive quality rather than a negative one.

    I agree with you regarding objective over loyalty. Nothing more frustrating than fans who can’t have a conversation without barking on about their own clubs strengths or most usually their rivals weaknesses. However, I honestly believe that the side last season was the best team i’ve seen at Old Trafford. We did this article some time ago now highlighting this:


    You might find that interesting.

    I agree, again, with you on the work rate of Rooney. This is something that doesn’t contribute to me thinking he is a world class footballer. Of course you need to close the full backs down and close down high up the pitch, in the manner that we do – but I think he is best when he can turn and pick a pass. But it’s his movement, when we have the ball, the makes so much space for other players to run into, i.e. Ronaldo.

    Also, I would like to comment on your Ronaldo comments. I think Ronaldo is phenomenal, I thought that when I saw him in a Sporting Lisbon shirt in a youth tournament, I thought that when I saw him on his debut and obviously I thought it over the past two seasons and I will not comment on the unprofessionalism he displayed over the summer. However, I truly believe we are not a one man team – as so many people like to think. These are usually the same people who say ‘Ronaldo doesn’t turn up in the big games’, so how do we win those big games?? Not saying that you think that, I just feel that with or without Ronaldo we’d still be successful – we might not have won the double – of course, he is a special player who is the best in the world – but we can’t place all of our success down to him.

    To conclude, I think we’ve spoken about 2007/08 enough, the season before was brilliant and yes I agree at times we played some great stuff with Saha, although after the Celtic game, where he missed the penalty, he didn’t play too much afterwards. People forget we were three wins away from another treble and if it weren’t for AC ‘were out of everything else and will scrape fourth so we can rest everyone’ Milan we may have progressed in that semi-final, but it was not to be.

    Anyhow, we welcome your comments and would love to hear more from you in our forum:

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