For the past two years many so called football experts have questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s belief in his 30 million pound signing Dimitar Berbatov
All the doubters can start eating their humble pie because Berba is the real deal, as I have been telling anyone who will listen until I am blue in the face ever since he arrived at Old Trafford on transfer deadline day in September 2008.
For me there was no surprise whatsoever that the brilliant Bulgarian put Liverpool in their place, with one of the best hat-tricks you will ever see, in this afternoon’s thrilling 3-2 win for United. His second, a sublime first touch and shot over his shoulder that left Pepa Reina rooted to his spot, was the kind of wonder strike Denis Law would have been proud of back in the days of Law, Best and Charlton.
In fact all three goals had shades of the Lawman about them – the pick of the bunch sandwiched between two glorious headers made possible by Berbatov’s ability to hang in the air just like the King of the Stretford End used to do.
As Sir Alex told Sky Sports: “There was a lot of criticism of him (Berbatov) last season from the media. It happens when we buy someone for a lot of money, that’s the way of the world. But this season he has started off in the right fashion. He was good in pre-season and on tour and has carried it on. There has never been any doubt about the quality of the man.”
United’s boss regretted leaving Berbatov out of the goal-less draw against Rangers in midweek. But Liverpool suffered the backlash as he returned as the match-winner, taking his goals tally to seven in his six appearances so far this season.
While the media en mass have revelled in the personal misery of Wayne Rooney’s off-the-field activities, Berbatov has quietly gone about winning over the fans and the crticis who doubted him.
Not only is United’s leading marksman one of the best strikers in the world. He has that magical X-Factor destined to make him a hero in the Theatre of Dreams.
Despite the defensive hiccups that have proved costly for United in recent weeks and the latest shock of Steven Gerrard’s deadball double that pegged back United’s 2-0 lead, Berbatov deservedly wrapped up the points six minutes from time with a towering header.
It earned him a standing ovation and a place in the record books – the first United player to score a hat-trick against Liverpool in more than 60 years.
Manchester United 3, Liverpool 2
Berbatov 42, 59, 84;
Gerrard (pen) 64, 70
19 September 2010