That's the view of his former manager Ron Atkinson, who tells Paul Radley why Bryan Robson was the best If Dimitar Berbatov completes a move to Manchester United ahead of tonight's transfer deadline he could play a big role in the Premier League champions' season. But, according to the former United manager Ron Atkinson, he will have to go some way to match the exploits of Bryan Robson, the midfielder who became a legend at Old Trafford.
According to Atkinson, the former England captain Robson is one of the best players United have had since the days of the Busby Babes. That is quite a claim when put against the feats of the likes of George Best, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane. "He [Robson] is on a par with anybody who has played for United since the Holy Trinity of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton," said Atkinson, now 69 and in Dubai to work as a pundit for TV.
"They have never had a better player. They have had some great players, but they have never had a better player." Atkinson believes the acquisition of Berbatov, 27, is key to United's chances of retaining either of their Champions League or Premier League titles this term. For a second consecutive summer Berbatov has admitted to wanting out of White Hart Lane. Although the London side have signed the Russia international Roman Pavlyuchenko, they have already seen the forward Robbie Keane move to Liverpool.
Last week, his Spurs colleagues labelled Berbatov selfish for the way he has sulked around the training ground after failing to get his move north sooner. The whole saga started in underhand fashion, according to the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, when the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson turned his head by publicly announcing his interest in the striker. Wanderlust quickly gripped the Bulgaria international.
He had been the darling of the Spurs faithful during two scintillating seasons at the head of their attack, but when he then begged Levy to let him leave, he quickly became a pariah. Despite this, he has the makings of an Old Trafford legend, according to Atkinson, who was Ferguson's predecessor as the United boss. "I think his arrival would be a major plus for them, particularly as Cristiano Ronaldo looks like he will have two more months out," he said.
"They are short in that area, particularly with Louis Saha moving out [to Everton]. "Forgetting about how he has gone about it at Tottenham, he would be a fantastic player for them. "When they had [Wayne] Rooney, [Carlos] Tevez and Ronaldo, they could compensate for not having a proper centre-forward. "Without Ronaldo, it is difficult for them. "I think it is a great opportunity for Chelsea to step in and put some pressure on them."
Berbatov's protracted transfer bears many similarities to that of Robson's move from West Bromwich Albion in 1981. Atkinson moved to Old Trafford from The Hawthorns in June, and made Robson his main transfer target. "I did it officially. I went to the club and said 'We want to make an offer for Bryan Robson'," he said. "They said, 'Right, what would you pay?' I told them and they said it wasn't enough. That was the start of it.
"Then the manager [Ronnie Allen - who had recently succeeded Atkinson] went on record as saying 'Bryan Robson will leave this club over my dead body... unless the price is right'. So we made the price right. "If I was Spurs, it wouldn't have bothered me because you know that is what happens in the game. "It is done through the press, and quite often the press just run their own stories. "If I was a manager, and people were trying to upset my players, it wouldn't bother me that much.
"I'd just turn around and say 'Look, either you come up with the money and he goes, or he's not for sale'. That would put an end to it." Berbatov will have a tough task in matching Robson's feats if his move to Old Trafford does go through before the Premier League transfer window closes tonight. Robson's move for £1.5million (Dh10m) was a British record, and not matched until six years later when Liverpool paid £1.9m to sign Peter Beardsley from Newcastle United.
He made 345 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 74 times, in 13 years in the north west of England. firstname.lastname@example.org