Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov Exclusive: Boring Manchester United got the job done

Former Spurs, Fulham and Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov
Berbatov Says Man Utd face a crucial week ahead

Betfair ambassador Dimitar Berbatov is back to talk all things Manchester United following their win over Fulham, looking at Bruno, Maguire, Antony, Varane and more in what is a crucial week for Ten Hag's side.

  • Berbatov in Malta with supporters club to see win at Fulham

  • Bruno right to remain as captain

  • Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans deserve their spot

  • Antony must start to repay Ten Hag faith

  • Game-by-game in huge week ahead for the club


Fulham result was a must for Man United

It was a boring and ugly game. I was watching the game with a Supporters' Club in Malta and I didn't see anything spectacular. But that game was a must-win, it didn't matter how they won or who scored, it needed to be a win for United to give them peace of mind before returning to Champions League football.

In typical United style, they decided to score in injury-time. The only good thing I can take from the game was the three points.

Man United history means you never give up

The history of Manchester United pushes you, the game is never over. There are specific games where you know you must fight to the end to win. Sometimes, when you're in the game and you sense that it's 90 minutes in, you push a bit harder to try and force a mistake out of the opponents.

Some will say it's a part of Man United, and some will say it's a coincidence, but the fact is Manchester United are always able to score late goals will keep the opponents on their toes.

But I'd rather we didn't leave it to the last minute. In some games it's acceptable because it can be tight and you're chasing a goal, but if you can decide the game early on, it's better for everyone.

Bruno right to keep the armband

I don't Bruno him as a person, and he needs to have other qualities to be a captain other than just his ability on the pitch - like his character, the way he talks to his teammates when they need to be talked to.

Overall, though, he needs to stay as the captain. It's not the moment to continue to talk on this topic. He is the captain and will remain so. I'm sure he's trying his best to motivate his team, to push them forwards and be there to score important goals and make assists.

You can see the emotion pouring out of him after he scored the goal against Fulham. The whole team were jumping in front of the fans. It shows you the stress United are under to get results. When you score that dream goal to give you the three points in a boring game, but you know it's important, you can see that it lifted everyone.

Maguire deserves this run in the team

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To be fair, Harry Maguire has always shown the right attitude, because he's a big lad, he's not afraid of challenges, he's always scrapping, defending and tackling as a defender should do.

Maguire isn't afraid to have a battle. He's always putting his head where the ball goes which we saw against Fulham when he took an early hit. However, he was brave enough to continue. He had a good game with Jonny Evans in defence. So, at the moment, he's working hard and deservedly keeping his place in the team. He's sacrificing himself for the team.

Ten Hag soft spot for Antony

Erik Ten Hag likes Antony; everybody knows that because they worked together at Ajax. It's clear he has a soft spot for him because every coach is like this with certain players. Ten Hag is giving Antony his trust. Antony needs to know that every time he steps on the pitch, he needs to justify Ten Hag's trust, work his socks off to show, 'yes boss, you're trusting me, I don't want to let you or the team down'.

However, right now, it's not working well for Antony, so my piece of advice would be to keep it simple, don't overcomplicate stuff. The moment you start thinking you're Ronaldinho or Zidane while you're struggling in games, you're going to suffer even more. Don't try to do stupid things like tricks that are not beneficial for the team.

You're so quick, use your pace to get in-behind the defence, get on the ball and start to record assists or shoot to score. That's how simple it is. Stay disciplined and concentrated - it's not so difficult.

I wouldn't be surprised if Antony doesn't play the next game though because everyone saw he wasn't at his best against Fulham. So, let's see what Ten Hag decides. There is a talent in Antony, but don't overcomplicate stuff. When you build your confidence back, then you can start doing the complicated side of the game and showing your tricks.

Varane can still be the man for Ten Hag

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I don't want Raphael Varane to leave, he's still a good defender. Football has shown us that players like Varane and Casemiro, they've both come from Real Madrid and started well, but suddenly something can happen, and they get a dip in form.

Erik ten Hag can be very strict in these scenarios, Jonny Evans is 35 years old and is still playing ahead of Varane. Ten Hag doesn't care how old you are, if you're disciplined and professional in training, you will play. Varane needs to accept this challenge, he's a winner and won everything, but now he's being watched under Ten Hag and Varane can't rely on his name to guarantee a starting spot in the team.

On the other hand, if Varane isn't happy with the playing time then it's a different question we're asking. Lots of players have big egos and think they deserve to play 90 minutes, every game.

Ten Hag is a tough disciplinarian

The players needs to have the mindset to follow the rules Erik ten Hag sets, if he they don't, then Ten Hag is forced to follow his own rules and not give the player minutes on the pitch. It comes down to the player's mentality, the environment, the people they're listening to and hanging around with.

Managers need to be strict and disciplined at football clubs, they need to control the environment. Sir Alex Ferguson was so good at those things, it helped that he had history and success with trophies during his time at Manchester United. I understand that Ten Hag needs to be strict with the rules he has set, if the players can't follow those rules, then they will suffer the consequences.

Time for Man United to take it game-by-game

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Let's not jump to the conclusion, Manchester United need to take it game by game. Yes, they're favourites, but what is a favourite anymore? Luton played Liverpool the other day and that was a draw.

Manchester United need to watch how the smaller teams are playing, to give them respect, otherwise, they will suffer by underestimating them. Copenhagen was a tough game last time, let's win against them first and then build up momentum.

Copenhagen is a must-win because Galatasaray away is a hard game and Bayern Munich is even harder! If it's going to be a boring, scrappy game, then we must sacrifice to get the three points, no matter what.

In some games, it's all about the result and not the performance, Copenhagen will be just like this, as was Fulham. But if Manchester United play the same way they did in the reverse fixture, then there will be problems.


Read Berba's thoughts on the Spurs v Chelsea drama!

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