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Interesting article on him.

clicky

So much has been said over the past week about Carlos Tevez and so little about the man who shared last season's Golden Boot award with the Argentinian, but who could give him a lesson or two in what a footballer has to do to earn respect in complicated times. Dimitar Berbatov has accrued his over the past year, in the quiet, dignified way he has dealt with the many crushing disappointments that have brought us to the point at which his agent, Emil Danchev, is now willing to confirm that, yes, Manchester United are cutting him free at the end of the season.

It had been coming and, when it happens, it will be done with little fuss. A couple of lines on the club's website, maybe. Then Berbatov will politely put on his coat and show himself to the door, almost certainly at the rear of the building.

It has been an eccentric ride and it is not easy to make sense of how it has unravelled. Berbatov has exasperated and exhilarated in equal measure. He has played with our minds, bewitched us in the good moments and bemused us in the bad. Ultimately, however, we will have to consider that he has failed, at least in the sense that he is the most expensive player Sir Alex Ferguson has ever signed and he has plainly, irretrievably, lost the trust of United's manager. Yet the Berbatov story is such an unusual one that it is difficult to judge simply by ticking the boxes of success or failure.

He will be widely remembered, almost certainly, as a flop, yet 48 goals from 82 league starts and 24 substitute appearances is actually an improvement on his record at Tottenham Hotspur. Twenty of those goals came last season, when several colleagues, including Wayne Rooney, nominated him for the club's player of the year award. This season – however much his self-esteem has been scorched – he has still scored seven times in 10 appearances, half of them as a substitute.

These are the kind of statistics a striker would ordinarily cherish, but the inescapable truth is that Ferguson has clearly decided Berbatov is not cut out for the highest level. A theme has developed whereby Berbatov has been deployed against lesser teams, but stood down when the heat of the battle is less tolerable. The most staggering statistic is that he has not started against a top-six opponent for 14 months. Since arriving on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window, he has been left out of 41 of United's 66 big games, meaning finals, semi-finals, European knockout ties, the Club World Cup and league matches against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs. He was not even on the bench for United's last two games and it would be no surprise if it was the same against Fulham on Monday.

What there has not been is a proper explanation, other than Ferguson telling Berbatov, according to Danchev, that he wants to "change the style of play of United, to put more speed in the game". A legacy, perhaps, of the beatings Barcelona have handed out to United in two of the past three Champions League finals. Berbatov's football could be set to a harp cadenza, whereas United operate to a different beat, more cha-cha-cha than slow-slow-slow.

In a game last year, one of Berbatov's team-mates took issue with him for not running hard enough. Berbatov pointed out that was the way he played and he didn't need to go faster. "You do at this club," came the reply, expletives removed.

All of which misinterprets the qualities that, sporadically, make Berbatov a formidable opponent – when his touch is at its most exquisite, it can make his audience believe he is on first-name terms with the ball. Magical, very often. Just maybe not often enough.

Berbatov will leave behind the sense that he lacks the one thing that can distinguish footballers at the very highest level – the force of personality to impose himself on the biggest matches. Exhibit A is last season's FA Cup semi-final, in which he spared Manchester City more times than he will care to remember. In the Champions League there were 22 games without scoring. He became the first United player since 1946 to score a hat-trick against Liverpool last season, but even that came with a rider, United's opponents being fifth from bottom at the time. Added to this are the long periods when his partnership with Rooney never shone as brightly as Ferguson was entitled to expect. There were only two occasions in their first season when one set up the other to score. They have flickered on plenty of occasions, but never truly ignited.

All of which has led us to the point at which Berbatov, in Danchev's words, now feels uncomfortable collecting his high salary from the club, an admission in keeping with his agent saying it is "not his style to start making scandals like Tevez". No interviews, no fuss, no briefing behind the manager's back, just the sense that he wished it had turned out differently, particularly if we remember last season's Champions League final, when United's top scorer did not even get a substitute's role and was so broken he never left the dressing room. After that, the only surprise is that the separation has taken so long to be confirmed.

Berbatov has drifted so far to the edges he is straying dangerously close to becoming one of football's forgotten men. On Friday, Ferguson held his first press conference since Danchev confirmed what everyone had suspected. Berbatov, the £30.75m man, did not warrant a mention.

Where do you think it went wrong for him. Such a skillful player.

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I dont think he has flopped, his goal ratio shows he has done quite well. But he definitely has not lived to the 30 milllion price tag. In terms of success as a signing, he would be inbetween, not great, but not bad either, a bit like our old boy Carew.

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It's a weird one, he sort of has flopped and hasn't. As said, his goal to game ratio is very decent, but obviously they didn't spend 30 million on him just to play a bit part and bring on to score goals against weak opposition. His all round attacking game/link up play, technical skill and technique at Spurs was wonderful to watch and incredibly effective. We don't know if it's some sort of personality clash with Fergie, or an ego thing that he was no longer the best player in the squad, or simply the team just hasn't played to his strengths. It just hasn't worked out for him really and I think he'd be silly not to move on as soon as possible. A very talented player.

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Ageing squad at Chelsea, they might not want to sign a 31 year old when they have so many players of that age as it is. He will be a great signing wherever he goes though, I think he is a sensational footballer. Serie A might be calling though, Juve (turning draws into wins) or Inter (in need of a complete rebuild) would be a good fit for him I think.

It's a great article, I almost linked it myself over the weekend when I read it. The real big takeaway for me is how it highlights Manchester United's embarrassment of riches. They have managed to stay under the radar of late, what with Chelsea and then Manchester City spending money like it is going out of fashion but United have spent as much as anybody on transfer fees and wages in the past decade. Their net spend looks lower on lists because of the absolutely staggering fee they got for Ronaldo, but the squad is littered with £20-30m players.

The Champions League final last season was the kicker, the very fact that even with seven substitutes they couldnt find a place on the bench for their £31m record signing who had just finished as top scorer in the Premier League speaks volumes about the state of the game today. Berbatov has every right to still be pissed off about that in my opinion. I wish him luck wherever he goes, I think he is a wonderful player.

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The problem with Berbatov is Manchester United play a quick high tempo game, but Berbatov slows the play down with his lacklustre lethargic style. Alex Ferguson knows what he is doing, and I think Rooney, Little Pea and even possibly Welbeck suit the Manchester United attacking play more.

He could get away with certain things at Spurs, but when you move to a huge club, you need to up your game, and do more then the bare minimum which in some games he does. Good player, but on some occasions I have watched he has looked even lazier then Yakubu.

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chelsea have lukaku so i hope not

it'll be interesting to see if PSG come back for him or malaga if RVN packs up, problem is if he does what farfan is reportedly doing, playing on the fact that he's free so asking for a huge signing on fee and bloated wages

i hope he goes somewhere like ajax and spends a few years back at the top of the scoring charts

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The problem with Berbatov is Manchester United play a quick high tempo game, but Berbatov slows the play down with his lacklustre lethargic style. Alex Ferguson knows what he is doing, and I think Rooney, Little Pea and even possibly Welbeck suit the Manchester United attacking play more.

He could get away with certain things at Spurs, but when you move to a huge club, you need to up your game, and do more then the bare minimum which in some games he does. Good player, but on some occasions I have watched he has looked even lazier then Yakubu.

Of course, that begs the question: why spend £31,000,000 in a fee and £100k a week in wages on him? Berbatov has probably cost Manchester United £50m+ altogether (£100k a week + 4 year contract = £20m+ in wages) even if we are being conservative about his salary at Old Trafford. If he has any kind of agent he will be one of the best paid players at Manchester United, given that he is their record signing.

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He's basically a slightly lesser Ibrahimovic. Both are lethargic, yet gifted players who could really be phenomenal if they really tried.

As said, a far far better version of Carew and a lesser Ibra.

Cheeky punt worth it? ;)

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The problem with Berbatov is Manchester United play a quick high tempo game, but Berbatov slows the play down with his lacklustre lethargic style. Alex Ferguson knows what he is doing, and I think Rooney, Little Pea and even possibly Welbeck suit the Manchester United attacking play more.

He could get away with certain things at Spurs, but when you move to a huge club, you need to up your game, and do more then the bare minimum which in some games he does. Good player, but on some occasions I have watched he has looked even lazier then Yakubu.

Of course, that begs the question: why spend £31,000,000 in a fee and £100k a week in wages on him? Berbatov has probably cost Manchester United £50m+ altogether (£100k a week + 4 year contract = £20m+ in wages) even if we are being conservative about his salary at Old Trafford. If he has any kind of agent he will be one of the best paid players at Manchester United, given that he is their record signing.

They signed him before Little Pea. Little pea has probably turned out better than everyone thought, and that has relegated the Bulgarian to 3rd place.

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Good, skillful player, who can score... it would be a shame if he leaves England. Would Spurs take him back? They are losing Adebayor at the end of the season - and this constant search for a striker never seems to happen. Either that or Liverpool? (whilst quietly getting rid of Carroll)... Suarez and Berbatov could work well.

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The problem with Berbatov is Manchester United play a quick high tempo game, but Berbatov slows the play down with his lacklustre lethargic style. Alex Ferguson knows what he is doing, and I think Rooney, Little Pea and even possibly Welbeck suit the Manchester United attacking play more.

He could get away with certain things at Spurs, but when you move to a huge club, you need to up your game, and do more then the bare minimum which in some games he does. Good player, but on some occasions I have watched he has looked even lazier then Yakubu.

Of course, that begs the question: why spend £31,000,000 in a fee and £100k a week in wages on him? Berbatov has probably cost Manchester United £50m+ altogether (£100k a week + 4 year contract = £20m+ in wages) even if we are being conservative about his salary at Old Trafford. If he has any kind of agent he will be one of the best paid players at Manchester United, given that he is their record signing.

They signed him before Little Pea. Little pea has probably turned out better than everyone thought, and that has relegated the Bulgarian to 3rd place.

Please stop calling him Little Pea :D

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The problem with Berbatov is Manchester United play a quick high tempo game, but Berbatov slows the play down with his lacklustre lethargic style. Alex Ferguson knows what he is doing, and I think Rooney, Little Pea and even possibly Welbeck suit the Manchester United attacking play more.

He could get away with certain things at Spurs, but when you move to a huge club, you need to up your game, and do more then the bare minimum which in some games he does. Good player, but on some occasions I have watched he has looked even lazier then Yakubu.

Of course, that begs the question: why spend £31,000,000 in a fee and £100k a week in wages on him? Berbatov has probably cost Manchester United £50m+ altogether (£100k a week + 4 year contract = £20m+ in wages) even if we are being conservative about his salary at Old Trafford. If he has any kind of agent he will be one of the best paid players at Manchester United, given that he is their record signing.

They signed him before Little Pea. Little pea has probably turned out better than everyone thought, and that has relegated the Bulgarian to 3rd place.

Please stop calling him Little Pea :D

Thats his nickname and the Manchester United have that chant about him where they refer to him as Little Pea, not Hernandez. :D

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