Just when it seemed that Manchester United’s attacking line-up couldn’t be more potent Alex Ferguson went out and signed one of the most natural and gifted goal scorers of his generation who would continue the club’s domination both at home and abroad.
During the 2007/08 season, Manchester United, spearheaded by the attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, proved themselves to be the strongest side in European football by winning the Champions League along with the Premier League title.
However, despite this remarkable success, Alex Ferguson, who was known to never rest on his laurels, felt that his front-line still needed bolstering if they were to remain one of the top clubs on the continent and win more silverware in the years to come.
United had been linked with a number of names over the summer, but there was one man Ferguson was keen to bring to Old Trafford, a player who had scored 46 goals in 102 outings during three seasons at Tottenham that many felt could become the new Eric Cantona due to his laid back style and attacking prowess – Dimitar Berbatov.
The Reds had competition, however, if they were to get their man as arch rival Manchester City, who days earlier had been taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group, had expressed an interest in the Spurs frontman; if United were to get their man they would have to act fast.
With just minutes remaining until the transfer window slammed shut until January, a £30m fee, which also included Fraizer Campbell moving in the opposite direction on a season-long loan deal, was agreed with the North Londoners, making Berbatov a United player in the process.
Talking on Manchester United’s official website some years later Berbatov explained how he felt as he made the journey to Manchester to begin a new chapter in his career. “When I was on the plane to Manchester, I was already wearing the red shirt. Well, in my mind, anyway.
“Of course, it’s good to have other offers from other clubs, good to be wanted because it means you’ve been playing well, but I was already imagining playing with Giggs, Scholes and everyone else at United.”
After being paraded to the media his new manager at United, Alex Ferguson, told the assembled press pack just how pleased he was with his new acquisition. "This is a key signing,” he claimed. “Dimitar is one of the best and most exciting strikers in world football and his style and ability will give the team a different dimension and I'm sure he will be a popular player with the fans."
The Bulgarian’s style would complement the combative and aggressive style of fellow striker Wayne Rooney though his laid-back and composed approach would often lead to him being accused of being lazy but he would ultimately have the last laugh as he banged-in the goals during his time at Old Trafford, making him a firm fan favourite in the process.
Berbatov marked his Manchester United debut away at Liverpool with an assist for a Carlos Tevez goal, but United lost the game 2–1 while his first goal for the club came in a 4–0 victory over West Bromwich Albion just a few weeks later.
On November 11, 2010, Berbatov made his 100th appearance for United in a draw at Manchester City and just a week later tied a league record by scoring five goals in a game during a 7–1 home victory over Blackburn Rovers; he was the first non-Englishman to net five in a Premier League match, and joined Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Jermain Defoe as the only players to achieve such a feat.
With the arrival of Robin van Persie from Arsenal in the summer of 2012 Berbatov’s days at Manchester United were numbered and he was granted a switch to fellow Premier League side Fulham signing a two-year contract with the London side for an undisclosed fee on August 31, 2012.
The 32-year-old left United having won two Premier League titles, one League Cup, two Community Shields and a FIFA World Club Cup and scoring 56 goals in 149 appearances for the club, securing the Golden Boot in 2011; while United fans will remember Berbatov for his uncanny knack of scoring goals and the confident swagger with which he graced the Old Trafford turf during one of the most exciting periods for the club in the last 20 years.