Dimitar Berbatov: I'm still backing United for top four finish

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire
Concentration will be key for United defenders like Maguire

Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov backs Manchester United to finish fourth, reacts to the CAS ruling on Man City and gives his damning verdict on Gareth Bale...

"It is so important for Man City to win the Champions League under Pep Guardiola, as they will never be up there with the great teams unless they win it."

United's draw against Southampton was disappointing. I'm sure United's staff and players were unhappy about missing the opportunity to go third, especially as it was their concentration which let them down. Winning the match would have made their jobs easier and put pressure on the teams around them. A top four finish is still there for the taking. It is a positive that they didn't lose against Saints and hopefully that point will prove critical come the end of the season.

Killing teams off has always been the United way. Against Southampton Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's players did all they could to kill the game off but their opponents played good football, they pressed the ball and tried to keep it, so they deserve a lot of credit. Killing off the opposition and scoring plenty of goals must be on the agenda for United every game, and to do that they need concentration and consistency.

United must improve their concentration

I was part of a United team that scored so many late goals and I also played against United teams that did that. If you ask any player, they will say it hurts when you concede so late. Especially, when you are chasing a title, a cup or top four. I think those players will be hurting after that match.

I am still convinced that United will finish in the top four but I cannot state it enough: they need to improve their concentration. They need to be 100% switched on in every game, they can't afford to concede early goals, they don't want to be chasing games. This is Manchester United and it should be the opposition chasing them.

When you go ahead, teams have to open up, that creates more space for the likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to use their speed and terrorise defenders. The chances are still there for them, Chelsea and Leicester have had a few slips recently, so I am still confident that United will finish in the top four.

Man City will be boosted by CAS judgement

It is easy to say now, but maybe we should have seen before that City weren't going to get banned. They have great players, one of the best coaches ever, they have invested so much money and banning them was never going to be good for the Champions League. City were celebrating the decision, but I know that for other people in football it has raised a few eyebrows and it has opened up a big debate. In the end, we will be able to enjoy watching City's players in the Champions League next season, which is a plus.

The verdict will give City a boost for this year's tournament as well, but mostly it will be a huge relief for them. I think they would have been in big trouble if their ban stood, so I'm sure they will be feeling relieved. I think this will also bring a lot of pressure, let's not forget that for them winning that trophy is the big goal.

The objective that Guardiola has been given is 'win the dam thing,' so now I think things will be a bit more stressful for him. It is so important for City to win it, they will never be up there with the great teams unless they win the Champions League. They have great players and a great manager, they have won the Premier League and other cups, but the one thing that is missing to put them up there with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Man United and Liverpool is that Champions League trophy.

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager.jpg

Even if City did get banned, and they didn't buy any players, they would still have one of the best squads in football in my opinion. However, now they can go to players and say: 'Look, we're not banned and we're playing in the Champions League next season.'

With the financial resources they have, they will have the edge over the competition, so it will be interesting to see which players Guardiola buys. They definitely need to bring in defenders. That will be their top priority. Now the ban has been lifted, they are certainly an attractive prospect again.

Spurs must build on derby win

I was so pleased to see Spurs beat Arsenal, it was important for my old club to get ahead of their rivals and there was pride at stake. Winning the way they did gives me pleasure because, as I have said before, it is all about getting the three points and getting the job done until the end of the season.

Spurs want to finish as high up the table as possible and it doesn't matter how they do it. Against Arsenal, it was great to see them score late on and stay focused until the end of the game, because many times in the past they have conceded late, which really p****s me off. I'm sure Jose Mourinho was pleased with that.

Spurs' long-term goal, however, shouldn't be competing with Arsenal, because there's no point finishing eighth and bragging about it. Spurs' goal should be to challenge Liverpool and City.

Spurs need to look at defence, not Vazquez

Lucas Vazquez from Real Madrid has been linked to Spurs recently, with reports suggesting he is set to work with Mourinho again, but for me he is a bit too similar to Lucas Moura, speedy player and is good at running into space with the ball, but it's a bit similar to what Spurs already have. If Mourinho likes him then I am sure they will try to get him. Whoever else they have in mind I am curious to see, because I'd like to see what Mourinho thinks is necessary to strengthen the team.


You always need to strengthen your defence. Some of the longer serving players like Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are on the bench more often, so this could be a signal that Mourinho will look to replace them in the transfer window. He also needs an alternative at right-back, they need a back up there in case Serge Aurier gets injured.

Boosting the middle of the park with someone else in midfield would also bee beneficial for Spurs. Gedson Fernandes and Tanguy Ndombele aren't playing, it's so strange to me that they would spend money on these players and not give them much time. I bet they are not happy.

If Ndombele isn't going to play he should go

Ndombele was brought in under Mauricio Pochettino and it is normal for a new manager to shake things up. Maybe Mourinho thinks the Frenchman doesn't fit into his system.

I was in a similar situation at Leverkusen. We changed managers three times and I needed to prove myself to each one, show them that I deserved to play. Also, at Spurs when Martin Jol left and Juande Ramos came, I remember him telling me that for his first game in charge he wanted to try something different, and he put me on the bench. I knew then that I needed to show him that he was wrong and he had made a mistake in doing that, so I had to prove myself.

You have these situations where you need to fight for your place and show the boss that he has made the wrong decision. Sometimes, you can change the mind of a manger, I was lucky enough to do that at Spurs, but sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, a manager just might not like you.

Ndombele has been linked with Bayern Munich and, if Mourinho continues to leave him out and the player doesn't want to sit on the bench, then he should move for sure. If he wants to stay and fight, he needs to be realistic and know that he has a chance to change the manager's mind, and that he isn't fighting a losing battle with Mourinho.

Sometimes you can bust your balls in every training session, score goals in games and play good football but, if the manager doesn't like you, there's nothing you can do. If that is the situation between Mourinho and Ndombele, the player needs to move.

He has been at Spurs for just a year and hasn't really had much of a chance to play. I'm a Spurs fan and I don't know how he can play and how he will turn out after five or six consecutive games so that I can make a fair assessment of him. For me, he should get more time, otherwise it will be money stupidly spent.

Bale stunt was disrespectful

Gareth Bale is in the headlines again for pretending to sleep in the stands when he found out he was going to be an unused substitute against Granada. When I saw it I couldn't believe it. I watched him put his mask over his eyes and pretend to be asleep. I can not support that. It is unprofessional and disrespectful to Real Madrid.

I love watching Bale play and I can feel his pain at not playing because I have been in the same situation. But that kind of reaction is going too far.


Madrid need to find a solution to the Bale saga. It's not good for Bale or the team and it is bad publicity. I do feel his pain, I have been in his shoes of not playing and nobody is probably giving him any answers, then you are provoked to do those kinds of things, but I cannot support what he did.

The only solution is for Bale to leave Real Madrid. If I was a Real Madrid fan and saw a player disrespecting the team like that, it would bee too much. Bale should be asking for a solution, even if it is a loan move. It was a show of power, it was if he was saying: 'Play me or I'll do whatever I want.' That doesn't sit right with me.

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