Date:Wednesday July 29 2009
Dimitar Berbatov received plenty of criticism, most of it unjustified. Below-par journalists glorified the traitor Tevez's 'graft' and headless chicken style while ridiculing Berba's more refined style. However, it is certainly true that he did not reach his full potential, that he could have done much, much better. Fergie himself has to shoulder some of the blame, as he admits it.
'I expected the form that we have seen from Berbatov so far in pre-season.
'Last season was a strange one for him and maybe we didn't use him in the right way.
'But we know exactly how to use him now, further up the pitch, playing as a centre -forward.
'I really think Berbatov will have a terrific season for us.'
Nine Premier League goals and ten assist - the latter statistic is always overlooked when hacks deride his contribution - isn't such a bad haul and his creativity and vision was used brilliantly in a slightly withdrawn role yet I think Fergie's right: his best position is at the focal point of the attack.
He's not very quick even though he's got good acceleration but this lack of pace can work against him when playing off the last defender, it's somewhat difficult to get on to the end of through balls but his anticipation and awareness works wonders for him in the role. He's got the height to challenge in the air and he's an excellent finisher with a deft first touch which is very useful in a crowded, packed penalty area.
However, a lot depends on the supporting staff behind him because he won't win games of his own, coming back to the halfway line to pick up the ball and slalom through the defence to score. He needs Wayne Rooney playing just behind him which Ferguson promised he would - and he needs something else as well. He must be told to be more selfish: last season he kept shirking responsibility, he opted to pass the ball even when he should have shot or taken on a defender. But it looks like Fergie is aware of the problems and knows the cure - so it's in the right hands.
Date:Wednesday July 29 2009
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