George Dearnaley

Berbatov gives Reds the blues

2008-11-12 15:53
Sport24 columnist George Dearnaley (File)
George Dearnaley

Let’s not beat about the bush. Manchester United’s record signing Dimitar Berbatov spends most of a match walking around flicking his hair out of his face. Every now and then he pulls the ball out of the air with a piece of exquisite control and then delivers an inch perfect pass that can split the hairs of a beetle – but these moments have been few and very far between.

Berbatov has ability, of that there is no doubt. His goals are often spectacular or executed with a sublime piece of finishing but he lacks something in his game. United fans, and I know I speak on behalf of most, have not been too impressed with his performances. Jo’burg Red ‘The Brotha’ called me ranting and raving. “He can’t just play now and then! He can’t just make one pass a week! He has to do some running too!”

There have been the odd games (Aalborg away and Celtic at home in the Champions League) where he showed glimpses of his inherent ability and finishing. But at a team like Manchester United, you can’t just perform in every third of fourth game – you absolutely have to be performing in every match.

There are days in which your team-mates might carry you and you can get away with an under-par performance, as long as your work rate is high. Even legends like Eric Cantona and Teddy Sheringham, not known for their defensive abilities, worked back and made tackles. The problem with Berbatov is that he often looks disinterested. 

Carlos Tevez, the Argentinean striker who has lost his starting position to Berbatov, is a huge fan favourite. United fans love a worker and no-one works harder than Tevez – and so it is even harder to accept the casual Mr Berbatov knowing that Tevez, who did so well last season as United went on to win the League and Champions League, is sitting out for the big transfer signing from Spurs.

If United hope to achieve any success this season, then Sir Alex is going to have to light a cracker underneath the expensive rear end of his below-par Bulgarian or give Tevez an extended run while Dimitar sits in the stands and watches how it is done at United!

(Well done to Arsenal on a great victory with the youngsters showing the champions how to play the game – you cost me a bottle of 12-year-old single malt.)

Telkom Knockout has produced some great stuff!

This season’s edition of the Telkom Knockout Cup has really produced some quality football. There were a few matches in the first round that were not much to write home about, but the Bay United v Sundowns match, the Golden Arrows v Kaizer Chiefs match, the quarter-finals Orlando Pirates v Moroka Swallows and Ajax Cape Town v Golden Arrows matches were all quality matches with some great goals.

The only disappointment has been the lack of supporters at the stadiums. South African fans are yet to show how passionate they are when it comes to supporting local football. At least the players have delivered on the field. The semi-finals should be humdingers, so if you are in East London or Durban on the weekend, make an effort to go out and watch the action!

We still have a long way to go in terms of the way we support our local football teams if we are to have any chance of impressing foreign fans with our so-called passion for the game.

George is Media24's Soccer Business Manager - and Manchester United's greatest supporter.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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