Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov Exclusive: Manchester United stuck in a 'vicious cycle'

Betfair ambassador Dimitar Berbatov and Erik ten Hag
Berba backed Ten Hag's selections for the Manchester derby

Betfair ambassador Dimitar Berbatov discusses the Manchester United captaincy, their lack of leaders and why they are trapped in a vicious cycle of failure...

  • Berba reacts to United's derby drubbing

  • Says keep Bruno as captain

  • Backs Ten Hag over team selection

  • Urges Mount and Hojlund to prove worth

Man City punished sleepy United

The first half of Sunday's Manchester derby was pretty even but City dominated the second-half and showed that, at the moment, United are a long way behind them.

United still haven't woken up in the Premier League this season. There's a lot of work to be done if they even want to think about qualifying for the top four.

I can't even talk about United winning trophies right now because even when they win a game, you can still see cracks in the performance. As soon as you make mistakes against a team like Man City, then of course they're going to punish you.

No issues with Ten Hag selection

I didn't see any mistakes by Jonny Evans or Harry Maguire, so it was the team performance that wasn't there. Erik ten Hag had his reasons for the tactical changes before and during the game but obviously they didn't pay off.

We'll never know if things would've been better if Raphael Varane had played, but, when you make one mistake and give a chance to Man City to take the lead, it's almost impossible to beat them.

I don't think it was a mistake to bring Sofyan Amrabat off at half-time. United looked a bit afraid and could have been more offensive, but when you're chasing the game at half-time you need to change something and become more attacking.

Having said that, you still need to be careful how you approach the game. If you don't think about how you're playing and be proactive then you'll suffer. Had Amrabat stayed on the pitch in the second-half, I don't think it would have changed the game.

Keep Bruno as captain

I saw Gary Neville and Roy Keane's comments about the captaincy and I agree with what Gary said. If you change the captaincy now, then it will only add to the turbulence in the team. They made the change in pre-season when the armband was taken from Maguire and given to Bruno. If Ten Hag takes it from Bruno now that will be bad for his morale.

Bruno will be aware of the criticism regarding his behaviour, and he will need to work on it. The reason for Fernandes' current behaviour is due to how the team is performing. He's not happy with it. I've been there myself and I know the feeling. It's not a good one.

When you're the captain and things aren't going well, you need to shout and be angry with your teammates. I don't think the armband should be taken away from him.

United need leaders on the pitch

Every player should be a leader in their own position. Everyone should want more from themselves and their teammates. They should all take responsibility.

The performances from United players aren't good enough. Even in the games they manage to win, you can sense that something is missing. Sometimes, United players are too nice on the pitch. They need to be a bit nastier.

Man United have a couple of players who are like this. They're always shouting and in the faces of the opposition, but they need 11 players like this.

Mount and Hojlund must work their ar*es off

Mason Mount hasn't started in the way that everyone expected him to at United. They spent a lot of money on him and He's a really talented player but at the moment it's not working.

I'm sure he's working hard but he needs games to build his confidence. That will only happen when he's allowed to play.

When he makes mistakes, he must keep going and prove his worth. If he keeps working then it will pay off. The trouble is that it needs to pay off as soon as possible because the team are in a difficult position.

Rasmus Hojlund, too, will know that there's pressure on him to score goals. He's not scored yet in the Premier League and that's a burden on his shoulder.

He'll want to score in the Premier League. You can see that with the effort that he's putting in. You can see that he's trying his best.

My advice to Hojlund is to not over-complicate things. Just stick to who you are and what has given you success in the past. Work on your weaknesses and eventually it will pay off.

Hojlund and Mount need to block out the noise from the media and fans and concentrate on their training. The only solution is to continue working your ar*e off. In games, you just must hope that the whole team turns up.


I imagine the mood and atmosphere in the aftermath of the Manchester derby would not have been good. The only option the players have is to work through that. There's nothing the team can do about everything else going on at the club.

The players can only hope that the situations outside of their control are sorted soon and the machine that is Manchester United can restart soon. They need to find some stability otherwise the atmosphere will become troublesome.

United players wouldn't make City XI

It pains me to say it, but right now, no United player would get into Pep Guardiola's team.


Seeing how Man City played in the second-half on Sunday and thinking about it position by position, I don't think any United player would be starting for City.

United are in vicious cycle

It's a tough game for United against Newcastle in the EFL Cup on Wednesday because they're at home again and the fans are going to turn up wanting to see an improvement.

Even if the fans start to boo because the game isn't going well, the players must keep going. Let's hope United manage to get the win because if they don't, it's going to damage their morale further.

United are in a vicious cycle, they cannot get out of it. They cannot find the answer right now to bring them out of the cycle and begin to trend upwards.

If United win the League Cup and perform the way they have been, everyone will say they had a s**t season but at least they won a trophy. You must expect more though, because United hired Ten Hag to help them challenge for the Premier League title and Champions League.

Ultimately, it will be a failure if they don't finish in the top four and win a trophy, or better last season's success.

Don't sack Ten Hag

It would be harsh If Erik ten Hag were to leave United before Christmas. Who would replace him? The Man United hotseat isn't easy for anyone, as the last 10 years have shown.

If they lose against Newcastle, the spotlight will be on Ten Hag again, but that's football. I don't know how long Man United's patience will last, but I hope it doesn't come to Ten Hag losing his job.

I don't care how they do it but United must beat Newcastle. I'll back United to get an ugly win.

Spurs and Villa are flying while Chelsea struggle

I had so many high hopes for Chelsea at the start of the season but seeing how they are performing right now, I think: 'Oh my god, guys! What is going on!?'

They have so much money, they have bought so many players, but nothing is happening.

I must give credit to Aston Villa and Unai Emery. They're flying. It's just a question of whether they have the legs and depth in the squad to maintain this early form.

Spurs are doing so well. The key for them is how they react and bounce back when they lose their first game of the season. Imagine if they go the season unbeaten!

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I'm sure everyone is starting to dream of Spurs winning trophies again, but we should just let them keep making progress under Ange Postecoglou and hope for the best.

Harry Kane is one of world's best strikers

I always wanted to score a goal like Harry Kane did at the weekend from his own half, but I never did because I wasn't the guy to shoot from the halfway line. It's a difficult finish to execute and it was a great goal.

Kane is up there with the best of all time in my opinion, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. The Bayern Munich striker has proven himself season after season.

He deserves even more respect for going to a different country and continuing to score goals. It's unbelievable. Harry will continue to score many more and he hasn't got to prove anything to anyone. It's a joy to watch him.

It'll just be a pity if Spurs win a trophy this season and he's watching on from Germany thinking: 'What if I stayed?'

Messi deserved his eighth Ballon d'Or

Lionel Messi fully deserved to win the Ballon d'Or this year. I think enough is enough now though. C'mon guys, eight!? Because of the World Cup success and the pressure that came with it, Messi was the rightful winner.

Is he the best of all-time? It depends on who you ask. Some will say Maradona, some say Pele, Messi, both Ronaldo's. If you ask me, I have the shirt of Marco van Basten behind me in my office. He was one of the greatest ever.

You cannot compare great players of different era. We need to divide football by eras when we have these conversations, but Messi is of course up there, arguably one of the best, if not the best ever.

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