Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Who would I pick, Berbatov or Tevez?

‘Berbatov has been nothing more than a passenger in United’s road to success’

‘If the ball and the pint-sized Argentinean are both visible on the same screen you can bet that Tevez will be chasing the ball down as if magnetised to the damn thing’

Carlos Tevez V Dimitr Berbatov

There’s a growing debate among Manchester United fans, with Tevez likely to leave due to insisting he isn’t getting enough football because a certain Bulgarian is Fergie’s preferred choice it begs the question, why? Why is Carlos Tevez, a dogged and a tireless worker, warming the bench when Berbatov strolls around the pitch having barely broken into a sweat?

It’s a question that echoes around Old Trafford, is debated by water coolers across the country and on internet forums alike, everyone is asking the same very obvious question, what is it that Ferguson sees in Berbatov than no one else does?

Two very different but unique players
Right, I understand that the Bulgarian showed immense promise at Spurs where he was a class above the rest but Berbatov - who has now had a full season to adjust to the United system - seems no closer to being a World beater than he was when he arrived at the club in August last year.

A few goals against nobodies like Aalborg, and a magical piece of skill against West Ham earlier this season aside – Berbatov has been nothing more than a passenger in United’s road to success. The Bulgarian has got to be one of the most frustrating players to watch, he strolls around the pitch unloading a few nice passes here and there but there rarely seems to be a positive intention to his play. He keeps possession- even when it looks like he’s second best - but he rarely passes the ball forwards, which is frustrating when I’ve witnessed during his Spurs days that he can be prolific going forward. He’s not the kind of player that will bust a gut to get into the penalty area either so he’s never on hand to deal the punishing blow, most of the Bulgarians work (and I use that term loosely) is done outside the penalty area with his back to goal. To put it in as simplest terms as I can muster – he’s nothing more than an expensive luxury – and I hope that over time he proves to be a worthy investment.

Tevez on the other hand is the complete opposite of Berbatov and it’s the Argentinian who would be my choice to partner Wayne Rooney up front. Unlike Berbatov, Tevez is a worker and one of the few players you could say earns his wage through shear commitment and determination. If the ball and the pint-sized Argentinian are both visible on the same screen you can bet that Tevez will be chasing the ball down as if magnetised to the damn thing, and his poacher-like nature sees him popping up in the 18 yard box with a clinical touch just when United need it.

However, for all of Tevez’s great qualities he does have a few issues that let his overall game down. He busts a gut at every opportunity but he has a reputation for failing to convert the simplest of chances at times and his decision-making with the ball at his feet doesn’t always leave much to the imagination. But overall, Carlos Tevez is a fine player who has earnt the respect of the United faithful, not only by the way he conducts himself on the pitch but for being such an important figure in United’s recent success.

Moving on?
The Argentine’s body language this season has been plain for all to see - the head shaking after being hauled off by Ferguson on numerous occasions’ this term only shows that Tevez feels like he has more to give. It must baffle Tevez - who comes off looking like he’s run a marathon - to see Berbatov maintain the same brisk pace as he joins the field of play as he does throughout the remainder of the game. If Tevez is to stay on next season I think the terms of his contract will raise serious questions as to why he is playing second fiddle to Berbatov.

Is Tevez worth the £30 million that his advisors insist United are to pay in order to secure his services? Probably not but if United were willing to spend the same figure on a lazy, flash in the pan Bulgarian then I’m baffled as to why the United board are reluctant to splash out on a player who works his nuts off for United’s cause.

What Tevez lacks in ability he more than makes up for in effort in comparison with Berbatov, but the Bulgarians lack of effort and current lack of examples to reflect his obvious potential are few and far between, should give Tevez the edge for a place in Sir Alex’s staring XI.

Here’s a low-down of my pros and cons for each player:


* Berba has the ability to read the game like no other, sometimes when he looks to be uninvolved he is working with space off the ball
* He has the ability to create a chance out of nothing
* The Bulgarian has a graceful first touch, which he showed in the build up to Carlos Tevez’s strike in the recent Manchester derby
* He has a rare quality that despite his fatigued manner makes you think he can be the best player on the park

* His work rate is on par with a lame sloth and he rarely looks interested
* Doesn’t score enough for a front man
* For all his ability he doesn’t take players on and instead opts to go backwards
* He’s frustrating as he rarely uses his quality (see pros) enough
* His nonchalant attitude doesn’t work in United’s system
* Not overly popular with the United faithful
* Frail, lethargic and visually uninterested Berbatov easily gets bullied off the ball

*Rugged, strong and determined Tevez is a defenders worst nightmare
* He runs his socks off for 90 minutes… or 20, depending how long he gets
* He imposes himself on his opponents and pounces on any mistakes he forces defenders into making
* Always seems to pick the right pass in the final third
* Has been known to score vital goals when United seem to have run out of ideas
* Is adored by the United fans, players and everyone associated with the club

* Probably doesn’t score enough for a £30m rated player
* Is known to blaze a fair amount of chances over the bar
* All one footed, defenders tend to know he’s going to shift the ball onto his right foot and unleash hell
* Has shown signs of petulance recently which has tarnished his professional persona.

For me Tevez is a clear winner in this dispute, he just gives more for United and his effort and intentions are clear to see. Berbatov on the other hand largely looks disinterested and although I only saw his ‘best bits’ during his time at Spurs I can’t help but feel he’s holding back. Ferguson dubs Berba as the new Eric Cantona, I can see the comparison in some aspects of the way the Bulgarian approaches the game but so far Berbatov is on par with Jordi Cruyff and at his current rate it will be a while until he even comes close to claiming King Eric’s crown.

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