Dimitar Berbatov: Inconsistency against lesser teams has cost United the title

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola
Manchester City deserve to be where they are says Dimitar Berbatov

In this week's exclusive, Dimitar Berbatov tells us why United dropping points to the lesser teams is costing them the title, why they'll try to win the Europa League, and what's left to play for at Tottenham...

"I think it's still early to give City the trophy, but for me they are 90% there, hopefully it's going to be a bit more interesting after another three or four games, I think we will have a much clearer picture then."

You see what happens when you don't win games against the smaller teams? Sheffield United and West Brom were two matches that United were expected to take all the points from, but they weren't concentrated enough and now there is no point talking about their title chances.

They are still second in the league, they must give Man City a hard time, but obviously they are in a much worse position than they were before, which is unfortunate, and that shows you that sometimes people talk about records against the top four teams, but it is equally as important to beat the teams in the bottom four.

City are seven points ahead with a game in hand, and with the performances that thy have shown recently I think it will be impossible for them to lose it, and at this moment the title is theirs.

United will give them a hard time and chase them as much as they can, but at this point I can see the title going to City, which is unfortunate because United were top of the table and we were all talking about them and Spurs challenging. It just goes to show that it really pays when you are inconsistent.

I remember City started the season in a bad way, they were slow to get going but now they have found their form and that consistency factor has kicked in for them. In the Premier League you can afford to start a little slow and catch up, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon, and you need to know how to spread your energy because it is a long season and teams can surprise you.

City are going strong and they deserve to be in first place.

United players must stay motivated and be ready if City drop points

Look, City are running away with it but at the same time it's seven points and in the past we have seen bigger deficits overturned. If City make mistakes here and there, United can take advantage of that and close the gap, but only if they win their games.

There are still a lot of games until now and the end of the season and if City are to drop points, then I believe United are in the best position to put pressure on them and give them a hard time, which I expect them to do, but that's only if they get their winning consistency back, especially against sides down the table.

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If they had won those two games against Sheffield United and West Brom then we would be having a different conversation about the title race.

I expect City to slip up somewhere, the league is difficult and I don't expect them to win every game between now and the end of the season. However, it's a matter of if United can keep up and still be up there to catch them. Leicester are also up there and they can also put pressure on City, Chelsea are also going really strong under their new coach.

I think it's still early to give City the trophy, but for me they are 90% there, hopefully it's going to be a bit more interesting after another three or four games, I think we will have a much clearer picture then.

Recent performances must be a warning as top four still isn't guaranteed

If United continue to keep dropping unnecessary points to weaker teams I'm going to be worried for them making the top four, when you are challenging for the title it is unacceptable to drop points against the team that is bottom of the table and then the team second bottom of the table.

Yes, you may drop points against the likes of City and Liverpool, when there is so much quality on the pitch but playing against teams down the table, you have to take the points otherwise you bring lots of problems on yourself. United must kick on, because they risk teams catching them and each week the race for a top four spot is getting tighter.

United should go strong in the Europa League

This week the Europa League returns and it could be a good opportunity for United to get back to winning ways and get some confidence back. They play Real Sociadad and United are the favourites, but we have expected them to win in the past and that hasn't always gone to plan. This is where the motivation factor and the drive to correct mistakes of the past comes in.

I expect them to make up for their mistakes in the league and not lose concentration in this one.

This competition is also a great chance for them to win a trophy, which is something Solskjaer will really want to do with them and I expect to see a strong team for this one, the core of the team should be playing to help them get the result they need - it will show real determination and motivation to do well in the competition

Silva will still needs to have an eye kept on him

One of the names in the Real Sociedad side that stands out, for obvious reasons, is David Silva. He's 35 but he is still a classy player, he may have lost a slight turn of pace but classy players never lose it, he's mind will still be sharp, look at the likes of Messi, Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo, they are all well into their 30s.

United will have an eye on him for sure, he won't be a stranger to the way United play football and he can still cause problems for the Spanish side.

When he played in the Premier League he was up there as one of the best, he knew how to think on the pitch, how to turn with the ball, how to find the space, work in tight spaces, and pass the ball at the right time to the right players and the right foot of the player, which is very important, believe me.


While he was playing at Manchester City he won many trophies and earned the respect of every player around the world and I'm sure that he will be very happy with when he looks back at his time in England.

Adnan Januzaj is another blast from the past

I remember when Adnan was a very young boy and he would join the first team at United, he was very young and inexperienced, he had great quality but the timing probably wasn't quite right for him at United and maybe this was the reason why he didn't quite get the game time people expected towards the end of his time at the club.

I remember a very young boy that was eager to play freely without much tactical awareness, always keen to go one on one against players, like all young players do. He's now 26 and he still has a lot of football ahead of him. Coming up against his former club I'm sure he will want to do well and score a goal, but United was in his past and he needs to look towards the future and I wish him luck.

Jesse Lingard's move to West Ham is paying off for him

Football is a funny thing sometimes, Jesse Lingard has gone to West Ham and he's had a great impact there in his new surroundings. I think his transition has been made easier because he has stayed in England at a club he will know, and of course working with a manager who knows him very well. I hope he can play even more and continue to have a big impact at West Ham so that he gets back into the national team.

Sometimes in football you have these players that start really well then struggle at a club, at United he lost his place and couldn't get back to his previous form in the team, but he's found it at West Ham.

It shows that it was a good move to go to the London Stadium, where there isn't as much competition for places in midfield, he's been able to start over, play games and get his confidence back and he's showing what he can do, which is great for him. He must be so pleased with everything and how things are going, as a player you want to play, you want to develop and when your career is on the line it's so important to play matches.

He will be so satisfied and happy to be playing in a team that is pushing for top four, he's got a great chance to shine and get back into that spotlight. When you don't play, it doesn't matter who you are, or what anyone tells you, if you aren't out there on the pitch your confidence drops.

Spurs still have plenty to play for and can still make top four

Some people are saying that Spurs' best chance of getting Champions League football next season is winning this year's Europa League, but if you look at the league table, Spurs are six points off the top four and if they go on a good run they could still be up there come the end of the season, but only if they are consistent and they pick up the points and other teams drop a few.

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Let's not forget they also have a League Cup final to play and it's a chance to win a trophy just like the Europa League, but at the moment with Spurs, you watch them and think how is it possible that they can beat any team but also lose to any team.

You expect them to do great things but all of a sudden their form dips and you wonder what is going on. It's not what you want if you want to do good things in the Premier League, like I mentioned it's no good beating the bigger sides and losing to teams lower down the table.

That factor of inconsistency is there with Spurs but I am expecting them to turn it around. Jose Mourinho hasn't been in this situation that often, he's used to winning and with all his titles and the record he has in his career if he can't come up with an answer then I don't know who will.

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