Dimitar Berbatov: Nuno sacking was cruel but Spurs could thrive under Conte

Dimitar Berbatov and Harry Kane
Berba believes Harry Kane could benefit from Antonio Conte's management

Betfair ambassador and Spurs legend Dimitar Berbatov discusses the sacking of Nuno Espirito Santo and backs Antonio Conte to succeed if the Italian gets the job...

There is a small issue with the way Kane is playing but it also comes down to the performance of the team because he depends on those around him. Conte, who has fresh ideas, could be good for Kane.

Nuno Espirito Santo's sacking shows the cruelty and impatience there is in football, especially when it comes to managers. You can be sacked after a short period or if results aren't what everyone expected. Four months is a very short period to judge a manager and I don't think Nuno deserved the sack.

Let's not forget, at one point Spurs were top of the Premier League earlier in the season. Everyone was talking, emotions were running high, and some where saying maybe would be Spurs' year. Fast forward a few months later, Nuno is sacked and Spurs are eighth. Seventeen games is nothing. That's not how you judge a coach, it doesn't matter who it is, you give them more time.

At the same time, if Spurs have already made contact with certain people - let's say Antonio Conte, who's the favourite to get the job - and he's interested, then the temptation to make the change and appoint Conte gets too big.

Conte will need to play attacking football to please fans

At times, Spurs need a disciplinarian approach. Not always, of course, because Spurs fans want to see attacking football. When Mourinho was there it was more defensive and fans were angry at the style of play. If Conte gets the job, he needs to take all this into consideration and know that the Spurs way has always been attacking football and entertaining the fans.

He needs to look at the previous managers' mistakes, see what the fans were angry about, how the team was playing, how the results went and take all this into consideration and make his plan of action.

Conte is a disciplinarian, the defence would be tight, but at the same time he would need to find a balance to satisfy the fans. They need to produce attacking football and play with emotion. Based on his reputation, Conte is a good fit and who else can be better for Spurs at this moment?

Conte's experience is good news for Kane

During his time at Inter, Conte made Lukaku a better player. His confidence was down after moving from Manchester United and then at Inter he was reborn and became a goal machine. So you can easily say that Conte will be good for Harry Kane.

Conte has that experience with big players. Sometimes a manager needs a special bond with the special players in the team. They need to know how to speak with them and know when to be firm and tell them the truth and how it is.

There is a small issue with the way Kane is playing, but it also comes down to the whole performance of the team because he depends on those around him. Conte, who has fresh ideas, could be good for Kane.

The Italian has worked with great players, winners, big egos, players that want their opinions to be heard and it's difficult to work with players like this, unless you know how to handle and speak with them. With Conte, I don't think there will be any issue with the group of players at Spurs, based on his reputation and experience.


For a striker, it's very important to have the trust of the manager. If Kane finds that with Conte and they trust each other, Kane will play well and score goals. When the manager trusts you, you have to do everything in your power to not let them down.

Changing managers affects players differently

When I moved to Spurs, I knew straight away that Martin Jol liked me, but he needed to see what I could do. I proved myself and earned his respect. The reaction of the manager after that, the way he managed games and how he would keep me on if things weren't always going well was part of the connection we had. But even if you have a good relationship with the manager, you have to score goals, make assists and help the team win.

When Jol was sacked at Spurs, Juande Ramos came in and said to me: "Berba, I will put you on the bench in the next game, I want to see what the other strikers can do."

I remember thinking: "What the f**k are you talking about?"

Ramos put me and Robbie Keane on the bench, and the team drew. Ramos started me in the next game and I had to prove myself and earn his respect. After that we had a good relationship, we went on to win the League Cup and he didn't want me to leave.

Robbie Keane and Berbatov.jpg

Sometimes, though, when a new manager comes in you feel that negative vibe, that the new boss doesn't like you for whatever reason. You're not his kind of player, or maybe it's something personal, but it's always good for the manager to tell you and not be like kids in a school playground. That's never a good thing.

United players are still backing Solskjaer

I was expecting Spurs to win on Saturday. It seemed like a good moment to play United, but it was a brilliant performance from some of the key United players who helped the team to move forward and believe in themselves even more as the game went on. Even if they start a bit slow, some players can pick up the tempo and show the rest of the team.

This was especially true of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the first goal, an unbelievable goal, my kind of goal. The pass from Bruno Fernandes was perfect but that volley is so difficult to execute. You can easily put them in the stands, but it was a perfect finish from Ronaldo.

If United had lost, there would have been even more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But these things are always the same, as soon as there is another loss or poor performance, the pressure will be back. This is what happens when you are in charge of one of the biggest football clubs in the world. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, you are going to have your critics and they will say whatever they want the moment you slip or have a bad result.

United have a couple of tough matches coming up this week but they showed against Spurs they have quality in the team.

When United perform as they did on Saturday, it shows that the players are behind Ole. But why do they only react when the chips are down? Don't let that happen, just try to stay consistent and play the best every game. I know that's not always going to happen, but this is Manchester United and the players have to keep high standards and not let the last couple of games decide the future of the manager. They have to try and be as professional as possible and secure the results so that no one can question if Solskjaer is the right man for the job.

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