Only minutes after Mark Clattenburg had signalled the end of Manchester United’s goalless draw away at Arsenal, one of their former players was scoring his first goal for his new club.
With rumours that Robin van Persie wants to leave Old Trafford, and the questions over Wayne Rooney’s future, how many United fans would take back Dimitar Berbatov? The Bulgarian’s 114th minutes strike fired AS Monaco into the Quarter-Finals of the Coupe de France.
Just like he did against Paris Saint-Germain, the 33-year-old started on the bench for Monaco’s Last 16 clash against Nice at the Allianz Rivera. With the game deadlocked at 0-0, Berbatov replaced midfielder Mounir Obbadi on the 63rd minutes, but it wouldn’t be until the game reached Extra-Time before the former Tottenham Hotspur striker would make his mark.
Nice had been forced to play with 10-men for 70 minutes after a red card to left-back Timothee Kolodziejczak. Monaco pushed forward and the goal would come from the Nice left, Argentine winger, Lucas Ocampos gained some space, whipped in a dangerous low cross and Berbatov was quick to get in front of his marker, poking the ball past Mouez Hassen in the Nice net. It was the best or cleanest of finishes, but his movement got him beyond Romain Genevois, and his touch was enough to turn the ball into the net.
Initially Berbatov’s move was reported as being a loan deal until the end of the season, but the French league confirmed that the deadline-day move was registered as a permanent move after Fulham cancelled the forward’s contract. Rumours from Monaco suggest that coach Claudio Ranieri was against the move, citing he didn’t need a forward at this time, but with the Bulgarian booking a place in the last eight of the Coupe de France, perhaps Ranieri could find a place for him yet.
The slightly lower pace of French football, plus the chance to live his life in the luxurious city of Monte Carlo could suit Berbatov perfectly. In four years at Old Trafford, Berbatov scored 48 goals in 108 games, a record that reads much better than Manchester United fans would let you believe. The forward managed 20 goals for United during the 2010/11 season, how United fans love some of those goals this season.