Dimitar Berbatov: Disappointing United didn't qualify but I believe they can still do it

Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani
Anthony Martial needs to learn from Edinson Cavani says Dimitar Berbatov

In this week's exclusive, Dimitar Berbatov talks about Man Utd in the Champions League and how Anthony Martial can regain his form, as well as his thoughts on Chelsea, Tottenham and Real Madrid...

"I hope I’m wrong and I hope it’s 5-0 to United like last time, but why leave it to the last game? I suppose there’s nothing they can do about previous results now, they just have to do their job next week."

I'm disappointed with Manchester United's result against PSG, even though they were playing against one of the best teams in the world, against some of the best players in the world, United had their chances to get the point they needed but in the end it didn't happen.

Was that result based on some of the decisions, like leaving Fred on the pitch knowing how he was going about in the game and eventually getting a red card? At the end of the day there can be no excuses and they should have done the job and taken the point. Now they have to go to Leipzig, which is a difficult place to go and fight for their last chance to get the point they need to qualify.

I'm not surprised that Solskjaer kept Fred on the pitch, every manager has their own view of the game and I bet Ole was thinking about it, he probably had a word with him at half time and he probably told him to be careful and to keep his cool. But in games it is difficult to keep your cool and you do go flying into tackles. Maybe the right decision was to take him off, that didn't happen and in the end he got a red card, which certainly affected the game. They missed a good chance to qualify and breathe easy.

Martial can look to Cavani as a good example to learn from

Anthony Martial also missed a couple of good chances in the match, he needs to up his game. I was thinking about him and there were fans messaging me on social media about him asking what is going on with him and why he isn't producing and scoring goals. He needs to up his game, not only him but the whole team too. In the really important games he need to shine even more.

I've been surprised with how well Edinson Cavani has performed, the guy is 33-years-old and he's running around the pitch like he's a 25-year-old, fighting for the ball, making spaces, the passion he had is still there and that is something that Martial needs to look at and improve on. He needs to bully defenders and get dirty from time to time.

He has the other attributes like technique, speed and stamina and other things like that, but in some games, like the one against PSG, you need to be a bit nasty and when you have an opportunity to score, you need to score.

I hope it's just a blip for him because I like him as a player and as a human, I hope he can continue and get better with his development. I can tell that Solskjaer likes him a lot as well with the amount of game time he is getting. Hopefully, after the games, win or lose he looks for advice from Ole, and with Cavani there he can see how he is moving around and they've both been in the French league so they will know each other.

The examples are around him, he only needs to look around him and ask, it's as simple as that. On the training pitch he just needs to stay and work on things that may be missing from his game.

Qualifying for the last 16 isn't going to be easy

I am confident and I believe that they can still qualify with a result next week against RB Leipzig. Looking at the match, I am a bit worried because Leipzig are a good team and I don't think anyone thinks otherwise, they are going to cause problems for United, even though last time out United won 5-0 don't let that fool you, every game is different, and Leipzig will push with everything they have to qualify.

They have a great coach, they have a good team and based on how United have performed this season, for me it's going to be really difficult for them, they need to have their best game to get the job done. I hope I'm wrong and I hope it's 5-0 to United like last time, but why leave it to the last game? I suppose there's nothing they can do about previous results now, they just have to do their job next week.


Looking at how they have performed this season, I don't think being knocked out in the group stage can be considered a failure, it will be very disappointing, don't get me wrong. If they were in the final last year and were knocked out of the group then that would be a failure, but they weren't. If they do get knocked out then yes, it will be very disappointing because it is currently in their hands and they have to take one point in their last game. But, when you leave it to the last moment, it's never a good feeling and I'm sure they will be nervous.

If they do get knocked out, they will go into the Europa League, I'm sure there will be a bit of pressure on Solskjaer, but I believe his future will depend on not just how they perform in Europe but also in the Premier League as well, that is what he will be judged on. At the moment it's a rollercoaster, like it has been for the past few seasons at United.

Chelsea should not let Giroud go anywhere

I have been so impressed with how Olivier Giroud has performed at Chelsea. He is underrated and I don't think Chelsea should let him go. If he isn't playing much then of course the player will want to go where he is getting more game time but they shouldn't let him go.

He's proven time and time again how valuable he is, even coming off the bench, which I'm sure he won't like doing, but even when he does he is producing, scoring and trying his best. Scoring four goals in the Champions League against Sevilla, you can not underestimate that and you need to give the guy credit for everything he is doing.

Believe me, scoring four goals in a game is difficult, it doesn't matter who against, whether it's Sunday League or Premier League, but scoring four goals in the Champions League is on another level and it's a big achievement.

I watch Chelsea's matches and I like watching Giroud, every time I watch them and think about their attacking options I believe he has a place there, maybe not every game like he'd hope but there is certainly a role for him there and they should look to do everything to keep him.

Spurs are rightly the favourites in North London Derby

If we check the table, we can see where Tottenham are and where Arsenal are. I'm sure Spurs fans are enjoying that, but as we all know when it comes to derbies, these things mean nothing and the situation is a bit different, it doesn't matter where you are in the table, anything can happen. I am sure that Spurs will be fully concentrated, motivated and they won't underestimate Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta has great players, but it just isn't working out for them at the moment. Spurs have had some great results so far and hopefully they will find that consistency and concentration factor and will finally get off that rollercoaster they have been on the past few seasons and go and win a trophy. Seeing how Jose Mourinho speaks before and after games, especially how he uses his words, I'm certain he will prepare his team well for the North London Derby.

Jose Mourinho hand to ear 1280.JPG

Spurs need to be super cautious still going into this one, sometimes when a team is playing poorly it only takes one result to rejuvenate them and come the end of the season they will look back and see it as a turning point, I don't want to see that happening when Tottenham play Arsenal. I want Spurs to continue the way they have been playing, they should give Arsenal the respect they deserve because they have good players and a good manager, and I want them to approach this match like it's going to be a difficult one. I don't want them to think that because they are on the top of the table they will have it easy, that won't be the case.

Arsenal are still fighting and I'm sure they will have chances in the match.

People will keep saying that each game is a challenge for them and I'm sure that will be said each game between now and the end of the season, until Spurs finally win something people will judge and underestimate them as a team and they will continue to ask questions.

Zidane needs more respect and more time to turn things around

Reports in Spain are suggesting that Zinedine Zidane could get the sack if they fail to qualify to the knockout stage of the Champions League. If that is the case I don't think it's fair when you take his previous record in the competition with Real Madrid, I don't think anyone is ever going to achieve what he did with three in a row. I think if they don't continue in the Champions League they should focus on the Spanish league and give him more time.

Sometimes in football, based on previous records as a manger, respect must be shown and he should be given the time to correct things. They shouldn't consider sacking him if they get knocked out of the Champions League.

I also read that Mauricio Pochettino is a big favourite to take over if Zidane does get the sack. I am so surprised that Poch has gone so long without a job, I don't know why, maybe he has been waiting for the perfect moment or the perfect team, but I'm surprised.

If he is the number one contender to replace Zidane, then that would b a good choice, he speaks Spanish and he has experience in La Liga.

The rumours are flying around which is normal and if it comes down to Zidane leaving then I think Poch is the right choice, especially when you look at how he manages teams, the team will suit him, the way he sees football, the way he want football to be played, he will be a good fit but I still think they should give Zidane more time.

It's sad to see Hazard suffer so much

To have one or two injuries at a club is normal in football but to have eight, like Eden Hazard has had at Real Madrid, is strange and something must be wrong. The player needs to get real with himself, know his body, know where the problem is coming from and explain it to the physio and doctors. Then it is down to the medical team to work out where the injuries are coming from and help to prevent them. I can not imagine that a team, like Real Madrid, don't have the tools to handle injuries and to make players better again.


For him to go there from Chelsea and to not have a season without injuries, being able to fully show what he can do, is a big problem for me. Because he is injured he can not produce the kind of football that we saw him produce at Chelsea and I bet it is causing him major stress, he probably has some dark days thinking about it and it can break you when you constantly question yourself and your injuries.

It doesn't matter how cheerful you are, how positive you are, if you have eight injuries you are going to be in a dark place more often than you want to. You can put on a brave face and try to be strong but at the end of the day you are going to suffer so much because something is clearly wrong to have eight injuries.

It's sad to see, I remember when I had injuries, I was lucky to not have that many, but when I did have one small injury and if I was out for 10 days here, 10 days there I was driving everyone crazy. I'm sure Hazard is looking for answers everywhere: doctors in Madrid, doctors in Belgium, doctors in England and when everyone is giving you a different opinion you get even more confused and desperate.

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