Home » ARTICLES » The Challenge Facing Berbatov This Season

The Challenge Facing Berbatov This Season

published :

As the new season starts United go into the season with seven strikers in our squad, which obviously means there will be competition for places up front.  


Wayne Rooney appears to be back to his best as the new season beckons. Javier Hernandez will definitely be in Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans once he gets back from injury and it’s anticipated that Michael Owen and Danny Welbeck who have had good pre-seasons will have a part to play too. 


Alike Welbeck, both Federico Macheda and Mame Diouf are back from loan spells and whilst they are not expected to start many games next season, there’s no doubt the two will be aiming to make regular appearances. 


So after taking that all in, where does this leave last season’s top scorer Dimitar Berbatov?


Many fans thought that perhaps a £20million move to PSG was on the cards last month as rumours started that the Paris club under new Qatari owners were thinking of bringing in our Bulgarian forward.Ferguson of course speaking about these reports denied them instantly, claiming that the rumour was nothing but ‘nonsense.’


So it’s settled then, Berba is and will be a Manchester United player for the coming season. But his place in the squad is not in the same shape it was when he arrived from Spurs three seasons ago.


Back then he slotted into the team ahead of Carlos Tevez who at the time was firing on all cylinders at that time. Now with the competition for places up top, Berba’s wondering what his place is. 


Is he our third choice forward behind Rooney and Hernandez or could he even be relegated further behind the newly reformed Danny Welbeck ? 


It is a strange situation with so many strikers on offer at United at this moment .For Berbatov, it represents a challenging period in what we know can occasionally be an insecure and complex state of mind. 


The Bulgarian could conceivably return to the line up to face West Brom at the Hawthorns next Sunday but if so he will have to impress and stand out as he may be pushed out most likely for Hernandez when he does return.


Although there is hard evidence to deduce a clear change in Ferguson’s thinking and that Berba is no longer trusted with a task as he once was at the start of last season as he single handedly won match after match for United with his goals. 


The huge factor in Berba’s game which he needs to improve on is his consistency which gets affected by his confidence. No doubt in my mind he is a player who thrives on his confidence and when things are not going his way, sometimes his head drops and his game drops as well.


On the face of it, Berba’s entitled to wonder what he has done wrong, to feel a little perplexed, aggrieved even, given that his partnership with Rooney has a better strike rate (a goal every 52 minutes) than Rooney’s with Hernandez (one every 71 minutes). 


Last season was Berba’s most productive season for the club by some distance with 21 goals in comparison to 12 and 14 goals he has scored the seasons before. He was also the first United player to score a hat-trick against Liverpool since 1946 and the first to score 3 hat tricks in a single season since Ruud Van Nistelrooy did for United in the 2002-03 season.


The lack of confidence Ferguson has in Berba is becoming clear to see for a while now replacing him with Hernandez in the big games and the Bulgarian has a huge task on his hands to show some of the consistency he showed in patches last season.


Berba was not in the team in the ‘title-decider’ against Chelsea. Nor the league and cup games against Arsenal. He was on the bench when Manchester City came to Old Trafford. Indeed, he has only started no more than half of the big games since arriving at Old Trafford. 

Examples of this are FA Cup games, Champions League knockout stage rounds as well as the most evident one being the Champions League final last May when Berba was denied even a place on the bench in favor of Michael Owen who was coming back to full fitness.


Ferguson has called Berba ‘a genius’ and yes there are clear evidence to support this claim with the Bulgarian’s sublime touch and flicks but also many evidence to debunk this theory. Nonetheless, Hernandez’s emergence is threatening to have ramifications for our no.9, if we can safely assume that Rooney is the first name on Sir Alex’s team-sheet. 


The situation is worrying for Berba with so much competition for him and the faith that was once there not existing as it had when he first joined. But rest assure we haven’t seen the last of Berba at Old Trafford and we may again be dazzled next season filled with a hint of shrugged shoulders and inconsistency which no doubt will be followed by the moans and groans from the Old Trafford faithful.

By @DHick92