Dimitar Berbatov reflects on differing fortunes for the English teams in Europe this week, praises Edison Cavani and defends Eden Hazard's actions after Real Madrid's defeat at Chelsea...
"A trophy will take a bit of pressure off the team, if not the owners. The title looks gone, but if United can win the Europa League and finish second, it’s a successful season."
Getting to the final is not enough
It was great to see Ole bringing Manchester United to the Europa League final this week, but it is only half the job done. Villareal are a team who pass the ball well with a manager who has pedigree in this competition and it will be tough for United in the final.
Some of these players were in Jose Mourinho's team when they won the same trophy so they know what it takes to do it. For the new players in their first final and Ole it is a big achievement and is good for them and the club with the club going through a tough time with demonstrations over the European Super League and more.
A trophy will take a bit of pressure off the team, if not the owners. The title looks gone, but if United can win the Europa League and finish second, it's a successful season.
Ole will have to keep players fresh while at the same time maintaining second in the league. Leicester are five points behind, but United do have a game in hand which is a good cushion to have. They should be concentrated until the end of the season, but a priority is keeping players fresh and injury free for the final.
If they win the trophy, it will be a good building block and silence the critics. Ole can show them that this is his first trophy. It took Ferguson five years, so in a way Ole is moving up and up. Let's not jump ahead of ourselves though as they do have to win the final.
As they've reached a final, there is clear progress under Ole. They are not regressing under him. There is a positive change; they still need to improve their concentration level against smaller teams, but overall looking at their table position and a Europa League final, they are progressing.
With so many games coming up, Ole is going to hopefully give a chance for players to have more minutes. Mason Greenwood will be getting more game time as he is the future of United.
I'm also happy to see Edison Cavani getting game time and showing how he scores goals. Young players should look at that and look at what a professional he is at 34. Donny Van De Beek can hopefully get more minutes along with maybe Juan Mata.
That being said, you don't want to lose your position in second with too much rotation. Then you end up fighting for third our fourth. They have a big squad with strength in depth and let's see how he keeps them fresh for the rest of the season.
Edinson Cavani - what a player
I rate Cavani very highly and how he moves around the pitch is a strong quality. He is 34 so not as quick, but he is smart and knows how to use his movement, he is so precise and knows when to move and use his pace.
Thursday night was a prime example. If he decides to stay, I think United will obviously say yes and is a good example for the young players. He is also scoring lots of goals. I don't think people will be disappointed if he stays.
If United win the Europa League, that might help convince him to stay. He then has some success at the club and nothing beats winning trophies.
It then comes down to how he and his family feels in Manchester. Players from South America can get homesick and not feel comfortable enough as your family have not adjusted. Purely placed on performances, he seems happy to stay. At this time in his career, he may think shall I go home and finish at a club where I want to or does he feel fresh enough to stay and help the team.
I don't like comparing players, but he reminds me slightly of Harry Kane; he just has all the qualities of a great striker. Not just scoring goals, he makes great movement, he drops deep, he plays the ball forward, he creates goals. He is essentially multi-tasking in a way. He defends, he just has great qualities.
There were questions when they signed him but when you have someone like Cavani or Kane and the qualities they have, they will always fit in that system. Young players need to take notice at how Cavani moves around the pitch. It is a very important component and Cavani has it. He points to players or yelling when players are selfish. They can look at Cavani who does not overcomplicate the game. The simple stuff is the most genius stuff.
If United sign Kane, you think Cavani will move on. I don't want to pick forwards over each other. Next season, maybe United will go with someone younger, but Kane would cost a lot of money.
Hazard criticism harsh but he's not performing
"Hazard has spent two years taking the piss out of Madrid. Two years. Kilos overweight. Unable to beat any defender. Many of you are saying, another Bale?"? The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) May 6, 2021
Eden Hazard's smiles with Kurt Zouma infuriated TV host Josep Pedrerol but took the focus off #RMCF...
I saw the footage and it is difficult to speak about things like this as I have been there. You are sad and disappointed, but then you see ex teammates and good friends, they can lift your mood as you haven't seen them for a while. You have a joke and a smile to say you're happy to see them. He obviously does care about what happened, but the problem is he is not producing for Real Madrid.
If he was scoring goals galore this term and in the same situation, nobody would pay attention as people would say he has done everything he could for us this term. The problem is this season he is not scoring goals and is laughing with ex-teammates.
I also want to say, I love N'Golo Kante. He was everywhere. I don't know how to describe this player. He is so good. They should have an award in football for players like this. He is someone who is working his ass off and covering everyone on the pitch. He doesn't want people to say thank you, he just does it and knows how to do it. He will put his body on the line for you. That guy is unbelievable. He deserves credit because the way he plays football is great.
City 'fully deserve' final spot
Man City fully deserve to be in the final. They were the smartest team against PSG. Over the two legs, they deserved it and after 10 years of trying to get there, they have made it and it is a great achievement for everyone connected with the team. But like United, the job is halfway done. Chelsea beat them in the FA Cup and both teams know each other so well.
Some may say another English final 'how boring', but it just shows how good English football is and, had Arsenal not failed on Thursday, it would have been four English teams in the two European finals.
Reaching the final is a great achievement. After the semi-final and you realise you're in the final, you have thoughts about it. Man City can secure the Premier League title soon and then think about the game. But they must not overthink it as that won't help in any way. City have players with so much experience and quality and Pep has been there before. City have the best manager possible to prepare them for what is happening.
From my experience of playing in the final they key is do not overthink it. The quality can get you out of trouble, they have the best coach who has been there and won it. In this case, when I reached my first final, we were underdogs at Leverkusen. City maybe have the slight edge over Chelsea and the situation is different. That can lead to pressure as you are favourites.
Arsenal are underperforming but Arteta needs time
People are talking about changing the Arsenal manager? Really? Mikel Arteta is a young manager and I hope he stays - I think that will be the case.
It's a shame they didn't reach the final as that would have given them a good end to the season. They are massively underperforming. They need to strengthen their squad. United are looking like old United finally under Ferguson, whilst Arsenal look no better than the last days under Arsene Wenger.
Mourinho will fit in well at Roma
Jose is familiar with Italian football. Inter Milan he won the treble so he is going somewhere he has history, but going back to former places it doesn't always work out and it doesn't bring you success.
His second spell at Chelsea yielded some success before he was sacked. He clearly wanted to get back to work quickly and I wish him luck. Jose has been criticised for the way he has been working and maybe he should take a lesson from that and maybe change his working relationship with the players.
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