Sir Alex can’t be blamed for bitter Berbatov

September 4, 2012 in Premier League

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“I said goodbye to the people who deserve it, I couldn’t say goodbye to Ferguson,” said the former United number 9 on leaving Manchester for London. He went on to say, “I know he’s the boss, but he has lost, to some extent, my respect because of the way he treated me.” So obviously, with this parting shot at his former boss, Dimitar Berbatov feels that he was mistreated by the Manchester United manager but was he, really? I’m not so sure.

Dimitar’s main problem seems to be that he wasn’t given enough game time last season after being told that he was still a valuable member of the first team. In all fairness, I can completely understand why he would feel aggrieved, because if you are happy to sit on the bench, then quite frankly, you do not deserve to be a professional footballer. However, what were the circumstances that led to him being benched?

The main reason seems to be Danny Welbeck. The 21-year old striker has come on leaps and bounds since his loan move to Sunderland, and it’s clear for everyone to see that Danny will firmly be in future plans for both club and country. What is the one thing that Sir Alex has prided his career on? Championing young talent and developing these youngsters into world beaters, and I’m sure he sees another fruitful project in Welbeck. Another thing synonymous with the Scottish manager is the importance he places on doing what is best for the club. He sees Welbeck, Rooney, Chicharito, Cleverley, Jones and Smalling as the players that will carry the United flag for years to come, so obviously he must develop a system suited for these players. Unfortunately, Dimitar Berbatov doesn’t fit into this system.

So is it Sir Alex’s fault that Dimitar Berbatov’s lack of pace or work rate doesn’t suit the more direct football that the team has been playing recently? A perfect example of this was last year’s 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal. With no Berbatov on the pitch, Cleverley, Young, Rooney and Welbeck used their pace and excellent link up play to dismantle the Arsenal back four to inflict the Gunners’ biggest ever defeat. Also, even Berbatov himself has admitted that the manager had told him about the change of style that he was about to implement, saying, “He tried to explain to me that the team will be using a more direct style, with more speed. But I’ve never been among the fastest players. I like to hold the ball, this is my style.” Some players wouldn’t even get an explanation from their manager as to why they have been left out, so Ferguson’s honesty deserves perhaps a little more credit.

So if Sir Alex knew he wouldn’t be playing him as much, why did he tell Berbatov that he was still an important member of the team? Dimitar said, “I went probably 15 times to ask the coach if he needed me. Every time I was told that I’m an important player and should not leave, but then again I was not in the team.” As every United fan knows, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are extremely important players but you won’t find their names on the team sheet every week. Ferguson is the master of picking the right player for the right occasion, as he has often done this with Darren Fletcher and Ji-Sung Park, so if he offered Berbatov a year’s contract extension then I’m sure he had plans to use him when he felt necessary. Why would Ferguson purposely keep a player at a club with absolutely no intention of playing him? To purposely sabotage his career? I don’t think so.

Ferguson obviously believed that if ever there was a situation where an experienced striker could come on an influence the game, what better person to turn to than Dimitar Berbatov? Is that selfish of Sir Alex? To want to hold on to a player to use him in a limited capacity when the occasion called for it? Maybe so, but again, it was in the best interest of the club - and in my opinion, you cannot blame a manager for wanting to ensure his club’s success.

In Berbatov’s defence, he remained professional throughout the season when he could have so easily kicked up a Cristiano Ronaldo-type fracas, but it seems that rather than understanding the reasons for why he was left out of the team, he has chosen to use these reasons to build up resentment for Sir Alex. It was Sir Alex that chose to gamble on Berbatov by making him the most expensive United purchase ever and kept faith with the Bulgarian after the slow start he had following his arrival from Spurs. He seems to have conveniently forgotten these truths.

Berbatov said himself; “I scored many goals, I won the league two times and I was the league top scorer, so it’s not bad.” So why have a dig at the manager? Basically, Berbatov needs to understand that it was an unfortunate situation that led to him being left out of the team – not because Ferguson had a personal vendetta against him. Footballers claim to be �mistreated’ far too often for my liking. Berbatov should ask Mark McCammon, formally of Gillingham FC, what being mistreated really feels like. Rather than being bitter, why not think about what you have won, be proud of what you have achieved at one of the biggest football clubs in the world and leave with happy memories?