UEFA’s latest European Golden Shoe rankings have Dimitar Berbatov shooting up to 3rd with 17 goals, a mere 2 goals behind Lionel Messi and a further 3 goals behind former United star Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a testament to Berbatov’s goal-scoring exploits that despite being on the bench for many Champions League games this season and scoring in only 8 games, he is now Europe’s 3rd best striker and a fair distance ahead of Carlos Tevez.
Manchester United are comfortably ahead of title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City and are the bookies favourites for claiming a record 19th league (see the sportsbook at BetUS for the latest title odds). However, they still have a tough set of away games to negotiate, including Arsenal and Chelsea away. United’s undefeated record may not last the full 38 games but if the Red Devils are to win the league this season, they need Berbatov to continue his fine scoring form.
Catching Messi or Ronaldo over the course of a full season may be a tough ask for the 30m Bulgarian forward, but he has a good chance of outscoring his former teammate Carlos Tevez. Tevez left United for City, partially because the transfer fees and wages required were already taken up by Berbatov’s arrival, and has been Manchester City’s primary striker for the last two seasons. His return of 14 goals in league and European competitions is impressive but given Berbatov’s tendencies to score hat-tricks (he has three already this season, matching Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record from the 02-03 season), the United striker seems to have the edge.
Simply put, if Berbatov can keep his goalscoring form up (and crucially for the Manchester rivalry, keep outscoring Tevez), United have a great chance of wrapping up the 19th league title. And most importantly for Berbatov, it would finally put all the criticism leveled at him since his move from Tottenham to Manchester United about being an expensive flop to rest.