First off, I’m a Spurs fan and a big admirer of creative, flamboyant players such as Berbatov. They are my favourite type of player, as everything just seems so effortless and instinctive. It’s very sad to see a player who showed such invention and expression at Spurs not even seem like the same player at Manchester United.
I also find it very lazy and idiotic that the press and United fans repeatedly slam Berbatov for his lack of drive and sustained performances. Last season, Berbatov had a very similar record to Rooney in terms of goals and assists. By contrast, this season I believe Berbatov is a prisoner of Rooney’s shift into United’s starring role following Ronaldo’s departure
I would argue Berbatov has already proven under the right circumstances at Spurs that he can and will perform within the Premiership, even when playing for a lesser team than United, so his talent is unquestionable. He not only scored 20+ a season at Spurs but created chances, consistently assisted his team-mates and was Spur’s main attacking outlet, instigating most of their penetrating offensive plays.
Whenever I watch United play it is so apparent the team look to Rooney whenever possible, Berbatov is not even an option or consideration. Contrasting that fact, the opposite was true at Spurs, there Berbatov was the playmaker, the main man, everything went through him, he came deep to receive the ball and dictated things, often not arriving in the box until late, most of his destructive play was done outside the area, he was free to do as he wished.
Whereas at United he is on a leash in many regards, he’s no longer the show master, his team-mates understandably don’t hold him on a pedestal and he is expected to stay upfront and play with his back to goal, even though all those factors are clearly not making the best use of his attributes and go against everything that made him so special at Tottenham.
I would loosely compare it to having someone like Bergkamp, Cantona or Zola in your team and telling them to stay upfront and not get involved in the build-up play. Completely wasting all their creative talents.
I totally understand why Rooney is the star man and everything goes through him at United, but with that, Berbatov’s talents are going to go to waste and are not going to come to the fore.