Almost every Manchester United manager has had access to a diverse pool of talent, with some having a greater influence than others. United has a history of drawing the best in class, whether it was Zlatan Ibrahimovi under Jose Mourinho, Angel Di Maria under Louis Van Gaal, or Cristiano Ronaldo under Ralf Rangnick.
Dimitar Berbatov, on the other hand, is considered as the ideal ‘luxury’ player. Berbatov’s style was effortless brilliance with a low work rate.
While the striker may not have put in the same amount of effort as others, Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad was full with players who made up for his lack of effort. Wayne Rooney, Ji-Sung Park, and Darren Fletcher were among the players that played alongside Berbatov at the time, and the Bulgarian was able to demonstrate his skill thanks to the efforts of his United colleagues.
Berbatov scored 56 goals in 149 appearances in all competitions during his four seasons at the club, including a remarkable and magnificent hat-trick against Liverpool. The Bulgarian had his most productive season with the club in 2010/11, averaging a goal every other game with a total of 21 goals in 42 games and matching for the Premier League Golden Boot with former United striker Carlos Tevez (then a Manchester City player).
However, United cannot afford to have players like Berbatov in 2022, nine years after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
However, in a recent MUTV debate, the Bulgarian backed Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored crucial goals despite criticism of his work rate, just like his own approach was criticized by some commentators. “Cristiano Ronaldo can still score goals,” he remarked, “and I’m delighted with all he’s done so far.”
So far this season, the Portuguese striker has scored 18 goals for United in all competitions, with 12 of them coming in the Premier League. However, he has been deemed a superfluous luxury player who cannot be carried by United. Another player who has been labeled with the same moniker is Paul Pogba.
Pogba has been managed by four different United managers, but none of them has been able to get consistent results from the French World Cup champion. United’s no.6 had a strong start to the season, assisting seven times in the first four Premier League games, but after returning from injury in February, he has struggled to have an effect.
United is striving to finish in the Premier League’s top four, but their chances are small considering the quality of Tottenham and Arsenal.
Rangnick’s team has been outworked and outfought for two weeks in a row, drawing with Leicester last week and losing to Everton on Saturday. Rangnick and his likely successor Erik ten Hag may have to seek elsewhere rather than hope for luxury like Ronaldo and Pogba to materialize.
The emphasis must be on hard effort and teamwork.