Dimitar Berbatov Exclusive: My thoughts on the season and verdict on the Europa League final

Dimitar Berbatov and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Berbatov believes Solskjaer's men can win the Europa League

In a bumper column, Dimitar looks back on one of the most unusual seasons on record, urges Gareth Bale to stay at Spurs and previews Man Utd v Villareal...

"United also need to play the ball well in the attacking third. United have the speed, class and talent to win either 2-1 or 2-0."

It has been an unusual season. A strange one, a season where you needed to adjust to new circumstances, you needed to adapt and produce good football. It was tough without fans at some points, it was like training sessions. It was a completely different season of football than we were used to.

There were no fans, there was the addition of VAR. Big respect to all the players and clubs going through this, they were still playing and entertaining. Manchester City completely deserved to win the Premier League title, while one of my old teams has a chance of winning the Europa League final on Wednesday night.

Manchester United can finish season on a high in Europa final

This is a huge moment for United to finish the season on a high. It would be great for Ole and some of the players that have won nothing so far. They were rested for the Wolves game and finals are very tough.

Ole has never won a trophy as United manager. The first trophy is always special and you want it more and more after that. He tasted plenty of success as a player, hopefully he can bring it back as a manager. It in essence makes him a legitimate United manager by not questioning him. I really hope he wins it and then is Mr United and is the guy to stay.

The disappointing thing has been United not competing in the Premier League. But it would be huge for Ole and his team to win a trophy and after that, it is about bringing the glory days back to United. It's strange and disappointing talking about United trying to qualify for the top four. United used to be the top one, but they have a way to go. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction if they win the trophy.

It was 2017 the last time they won a trophy and 2013 their last Premier League title which is disappointing and United will want the drought to end.

After Sir Alex went you knew there would be turmoil, but you didn't think it would last eight years.

Maybe they win the Europa League, but then don't continue on to domestic title dominance like in 2017 with Jose Mourinho. However, hopefully they can lift the trophy as that is a good thing. Hopefully it boosts them for next season.

Villarreal are a good Spanish team. It's a final, a completely different game where anything can happen. They just need to cut out mistakes and be concentrated for the 90 or 120 minutes.

Unai Emery will think he knows how to beat United given he has played them before, but it's a one off game. And you can be surprised by how unprepared the opposition can be. Emery knows United and Ole will have scouted Villareal. This is more about a game where concentration levels are vital and that you know what to do, then you will be OK.

Too much of a risk to start Maguire

Harry Maguire has been included in the squad but for me they don't need to risk him. I saw him in crutches a few days ago. It depends on Ole if he is confident and Maguire is the captain. But I don't think they should risk it.

He is the captain and a major figure. He can go to the manager and say that he feels OK. I can lead the team and say all of that. You will try to convince the manager even though you know deep down that you are not ready. You want to be part of games like this.

Harry Maguire looks over shoulder 1280.jpg

It takes courage to admit you are not ready and that you would be the weak link in your team. He will try to convince the manager to play him and then it is up to Ole to decide whether he wants to do it. A central defender is a leading role in the team and if he is not 100%, Villareal will try to exploit it.

I'm going with United as long as they ensure they don't take unnecessary risks. They don't need to play Maguire if he is still feeling the effects of his injury. United also need to play the ball well in the attacking third. United have the speed, class and talent to win either 2-1 or 2-0.

A disappointing season for inconsistent Spurs

I'm tired of talking about trophies with Spurs. I'm not happy with their standing in the league table, they have quality to do more than that, I'm sure they are disappointed. Listening to Kane's interviews, he wants to win trophies. He is scoring goals, but no trophies and he will be disappointed with Spurs' league position. Spurs have a chance of a trophy in the Conference League, but they need to start all over again.

Every pundit was saying halfway through the season that Spurs could go all the way and if not be champions, be in the top four race. It just comes down to a consistency factor. They needed to keep winning games and winning ugly but it was not happening. They kept surrendering their leads and they ended up being disappointing.

I'd like to see Bale stay in N17

Gareth Bale is a Real Madrid player, but he played 34 games and scored 16 goals this season which is pretty decent. If he got more playing time he might have scored more.

His goals against Leicester were excellent and I hope there is a solution for which he is satisfied. Why not stay at Spurs if he is happy there! I would like to see him stay.

He wants to be loved, respected and valued at Spurs and that seems to be the case now.

I don't want to see him go back to Real Madrid and sit on the bench. The other thing is if he goes back to Real Madrid and plays if Zidane is not there next year. Now Madrid have seen what he can do, maybe they will do a u-turn and decide to play him.

You have to say that Bale did well this term, maybe Real may feel that they can use him next season and he is a useful squad player. However, I'm doubtful that those differences will be fixed.

There is also the Euros coming up and he can play a pivotal role for Wales. During the Euros, his agent will be working behind the scenes while he's concentrating on the tournament and then they will take it from there.

Aguero has been a true Premier League great

I am a bit surprised still to see that Sergio Aguero is leaving Man City. At 32, he is now heading to Barcelona. I like him as a football player, but you need to know and understand when that age comes past 30/31, depending how the situation is with your club, you know a difficult season is going to come and maybe your time is finished.

City have a good replacement in Gabriel Jesus and I think they are parting on good terms. He can now start a new chapter at Barcelona and that is a great move for Aguero. I'm curious to see if he is going to turn out like Luis Suarez did by moving to Atletico Madrid and then taking them to the title.


You sometimes know when your time is up at a club and they are leaving on good terms, I think he'll leave with a smile on his face. Aguero scoring two goals in his farewell game, he now has a chance to win the Champions League. He is a tremendous goal scorer and he has been a credit to the Premier League.

For me he is in the top five all time Premier League strikers. It's difficult to compare with the likes of Shearer, Henry, Cantona and Kane, they all deserve to be high on the list. The goals he scored were unbelievable and the football he played, he was a joy to watch and he would rank him in my top five.

He will be forever remembered for that goal against QPR. We were at Sunderland and obviously that goal from Aguero gave City the title. I've seen that goal many times. He is respected by clubs and fans across Britain. That goal was painful for Manchester United, he was probably the guy to do it and he did.

Dimitar's End of Season Awards

Player of the season?

Harry Kane. He won the Golden Boot and the award for most assists. Kane is not just a goalscorer but he also sets up goals and he deserves so much respect. There is no surprise he is in demand. For Kane at Tottenham he has got individual awards, but not team rewards.

Manager of the season?

Thomas Tuchel’s short-term turnaround to get Chelsea in top four and get them into a UCL final was a big achievement. Brendan Rodgers to get Leicester to fifth and win an FA Cup Final should be recognised. Ole Gunnar-Solsjkaer has led United to second and a Europa League Final, while David Moyes and Marcelo Bielsa have had fantastic campaigns. However, it has to be Guardiola. They started slowly and then halfway through the season, they were simply unstoppable.

Surprise of the season?

I would say Leeds. At beginning of the season, I thought they were among relegation contenders, but they’ve played good, entertaining football. They didn’t fear anyone and played some good football.

West Ham were there too, but in the end I was slightly disappointed ass I felt they could reach the top four, but they finished the season poorly apart from their last two wins. But they did have a great season to reach Europe.

Disappointment of the season?

Fulham. They keep coming back up and get relegated again. I’m sure everyone associated with the club is disappointed. I think not enough has been done on and off the pitch.

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