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Dimitar Berbatov & Juan Sebastian Veron: A Bad Case of Déjà vu

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Déjà vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation."

Football often delivers curious cases of Déjà vu and if you are Sir Alex Ferguson then 26 years in the job means avoiding them is impossible.

The Scot has, undoubtedly, achieved in breaking the cycle of prosperity and depression by constantly regenerating his sides and steering clear of transition periods. But even the greatest empires will fall victim to a few roundabouts.

In the summer of 2001, aged 26, Juan Sebastian Veron arrived at Old Trafford and was hailed as the missing piece of Manchester United's European jigsaw. Having guided Lazio to the Scudetto in 2000, he was viewed as the ideal candidate to tame the swashbuckling, but reckless, football that the 1999 Treble winners played in the Champions League.

Ultimately, Veron, for all his redoubtable talent, failed in his remit. However, Ten years on, another expensive purchase would ironically complete the task and slow Manchester United's play down with devastatingly negative consequences: Dimitar Berbatov.

It is against this backdrop many ask: Why did it go so badly at Manchester United for two great talents?

For Veron the reasons are clear. Having walked into one of the most creative sides in Premier League history, he was handed a challenge too large. United proved incapable of changing their ways.

The attacking approach adopted was enough to overwhelm any English challenger but in Europe it was a style left wanting. Yes, the 1999 triumph was a magnificent achievement but the failure to capitalize on it proved that on the continental stage, United were lightyears behind in terms of footballing philosophy.

Yet the experiment almost worked. Veron started nearly every European match in his debut season whilst featuring less in the league. Some majestic solo performances over two years helped guide Ferguson's side to the Semi & Quarter Finals respectively but in the end United fell short.

Domestically, however, it was a disaster. In the physical era of Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard, the Argentinian found that the space available to him in Italy was not forthcoming. Additionally he seemed to miss his dogged comrade, Diego Simeone.

Increasingly, Veron found himself out of the side and only featured in 51 of United's 76 Premier League games but continued to perform, in virtually every European match.

At his best La Bruja was one of the finest passers England has seen. Don't just take my word for it; watch his cushioned pass to Ryan Giggs at Ewood Park or the outside of the foot pass to David Beckham against Birmingham City; a ball so sublime it would have been rude not to score.

Dimitar Berbatov, like the Argentinian midfielder, is a controversial debate. Some view him as a luxury and a flat track bully whilst others believe that, if thrown to sea, he would probably float on the water.

His lowest point arguably came when he produced one of the worst penalties in recent memory against Everton in an FA Cup Semi-Final. Although the high moments were the highest of highs - on a glorious afternoon in September 2010 - he had the Old Trafford crowd eating from the palm of his hand - a hat-trick against Liverpool; punctuated by an overhead kick Pele would have been proud of.

The most prominent issue the Bulgarian had to face were the fans. A Berbatov vs Carlos Tevez debate was sparked as it became clear that the Argentinian striker was on his way out of the club during Berbatov's debut season.

Many won't admit it but Tevez was the man who could do no wrong: Need a last minute goal, or some tenacity into a slow game? Then Carlos is your man. Conveniently, many forgot the Bulgarians stunning drag back with virtually his first touch in the shirt to set up Tevez to score at Anfield. Or his see-it-to-believe-it touchline assist against West Ham United.

Determined to prove his critics wrong - Berbatov carried the load during the long winter of 2010 when Wayne Rooney was handing in a transfer request and getting fit at NikeWorld in Portland, Oregon. His shift culminated with an epic equaliser away to Blackpool on a cold January 2011 evening whilst the Englishman, subbed off, could only watch on.

By May the roles had reversed for the European Cup Final. Wayne Rooney, reformed and rejuvenated, slammed the ball past Victor Valdes to provide brief solace against Barcelona whilst the Bulgarian sat in the dressing room.

Both Veron & Berbatov arrived with gargantuan price tags, but both left us underwhelmed and still perplexed as to how it went oh so wrong.