Manchester United

Sir Alex Unearth’s Striking Talent

Berbatov gives United the lead against Newcastle last night

Seeing as how there’s “no value” in the transfer market these days, Sir Alex Ferguson may look to one of his bargains of previous transfer windows, from back in the days when an aging lazy-arse would cost you a mere £30million.

Nobody divides opinion amongst Manchester United fans like Dimitar Berbatov. After an underwhelming first season, this time last year United fans were willing 2009-10 to be Berbatov’s season. After an underwhelming second season, United fans are now willing 2010-11 to be Berbatov’s season.

He’s a technically very gifted footballer, there’s no doubt about that. But realistically, only the most blinkered of United fans could claim that he’s justified his huge price tag, especially given the current financial situation in which the club were unwilling to stump up £12million for Mesut Özil (who’s gone to Real Madrid), one of the World Cup’s best players. It’ll be interesting to see how Berbatov fits into Ferguson’s plans this season. United were at their best last season with Rooney as a lone striker, but in both the Community Shield and United’s opening league fixture against Newcastle last night, Ferguson opted for a 4-4-2.

Berbatov had one of his better games against Newcastle, but the overall performance from United was below-par. Don’t let the scoreline fool you: whilst I think Newcastle will stay up comfortably this season, they are still a side that United should be looking to beat at home. In the more difficult games, Ferguson may be tempted to go with the 4-5-1 (or at some variant on a formation that sees Rooney as a lone striker) that saw United play some of their best football last season.

Not to mention the other first team strikers. Aside from Berbatov, United also have Rooney, Hernández, Owen, Macheda, Bébé, with Welbeck and Diouf both out on loan. That’s six strikers that Ferguson needs to rotate this season (although it remains to be seen how Bébé initially fits into Ferguson’s first team plans). Berbatov’s getting older, whilst United have more strikers, both of which would suggest less game time for the Bulgarian. I would expect another 12 goals or so from him this season. A few good games. A few flashes of genius. But will he turn into the player United fans were expecting in 2008? I doubt it.

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