Saturday 12 September, 12.30pm
Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov says Manchester United must stop losing semi-finals, hails Spurs' success under Jose Mourinho and remembers being on the wrong end of an FA Cup upset...
"It's now four semi-finals in a row that Man United have failed to win and this is a bad habit that they need to break. Four times in a row is too many to be just a coincidence."
Manchester United's Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester City was disappointing. United missed out on a great opportunity to go to a final at Wembley. I was hoping to see a final between Spurs and United but it wasn't to be and I'm sorry about that.
City did what they needed to do, they took their chances and won the game. United performed well but it wasn't enough. They weren't at the level they have been performing at in the past few matches. Sometimes you can only play as much as your opponent lets you play. City know how to play in these kind of games.
Four semi-final defeats is too many
It's now four semi-finals in a row that United have failed to win and this is a bad habit that they need to break. Four times in a row is too many to be just a coincidence. Sometimes the pressure and the high expectations can get to players when they need to take that step to reach a final. United need to evaluate what is going on in these important matches and try to correct it. Winning a trophy is a big step in the right direction and unfortunately they have missed out on another.
Sometimes when you have these derbies in important matches, it's not about momentum or form, it's about how much you want it, how smart and cunning the players are, if necessary use some dirty tricks, do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes you need to be like this and, like Jose Mourinho said: "You need to be b**t*ds to win trophies." I don't see enough of that from United in these important matches.
Reds need an edge
Roy Keane spoke about how shocked he was too see players hugging each other after the last Manchester derby. I agree with him. What the f**k, this is a derby go out there and win. They're missing someone who is dirty in the team, someone who can show the aggression that would give them an edge. United are too nice at times.
The players need to get this defeat out of their heads now. It is gone, they need to take lessons from it, focus on the next game and do their best. If they think too much about these unwanted records then it will affect them more and more.
This can be United's year
I hope that Solskjaer has set a New Year's resolution to win a trophy. They are in a great position in the Premier League, and with a game in hand, it's in their hands. If they continue on this path they can surprise a lot of people.
It all comes down to consistency, which they have lacked in the last couple of years. Nobody expected them to be where they are now and I would like to see them go all the way and challenge for the title because in my opinion they are title contenders with Liverpool, City and Spurs, but only if they keep up that consistency.
Nobody would blame Van de Beek for looking to leave
I don't know what is going on with Donny Van de Beek. I said before he signed that I like him as a player, he was great for Ajax and his national team, but now he can't get a game at United. I don't watch the training sessions and the little time he does get on the pitch isn't enough to judge him.
He needs a run of games in a row to give him confidence. I can see that his confidence isn't high at the moment, and that's normal because when you don't play you start punishing yourself and ask questions of yourself. I wouldn't be surprised if he is starting to look for the exit and nobody will blame him. Something isn't working.
At the moment Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Fred are all ahead of him, judging by the amount of game time he is getting. Are all these players better than him? I don't think so, everybody is different and everyone can bring different qualities to a game. That's why I'm wondering what is going on.
I still think he can help the team. The minutes he is getting isn't enough to build his confidence and integrate him into the team and to get used to the Premier League. Sometimes you can be ahead of other players purely based on your name and reputation, this is how unfair it is in football sometimes.
He should be banging on the manager's door and ask: what is going on? he should be asking why he's not playing and what he can do to improve his situation. Then depending on what answers he gets, he can evaluate and do what is necessary. He's only 23, so he's got lots of football in him and he won't want to waste any time. It's an unpleasant situation for the player and hopefully it gets resolved soon.
Spurs are back at Wembley for a final
It's great to see Spurs in a final, and I bet everyone is happy. But I see teams celebrating reaching the final like they won it, even though there is still one final step to take before you lift the trophy.
Nobody remembers who finished runners up. Spurs need to be calm and concentrated, they are in a final, but that is a couple of months away. Mourinho has been here many times, he knows what it takes to prepare his team for a final. Mourinho against Guardiola is going to be great TV. I hope it can be the moment when Spurs turn the corner and start winning trophies.
We all know why Mourinho was brought in at Spurs and we all know his record. He's gunning for a trophy, it doesn't matter what kind or how they win it, so the League Cup is a massive opportunity for him. Spurs haven't won anything since I was there, and now this is a big test to challenge and see where they are at. When that whistle blows it doesn't matter how they perform, they just have to win. It will be a big boost for the team's winning mentality and I doubt they'd have to wait another 13 years to lift another trophy. Spurs are clearly going places.
Expect a quiet transfer window
I have always said that United need another defender, but looking at the recent performances of Eric Bailly, if he stays focused and injury free then he can be a rock at the back of defence. But if United are going to buy someone, especially at this point in the season, them to be a perfect fit for the team. I don't think they need anyone at the moment.
I have read the reports about Sergio Ramos and there is a lot of speculation about his future. He could bring a lot of experience and steel to any team. Although he is 34, he is still a top player and United could do a lot worse. If he is available I can see a lot of teams interested in signing him. At his age of course Real Madrid are reluctant to offer him a long contract. Maybe they are arguing about money because it always comes down to money, but both sides should think long and hard about it because the grass isn't always greener.
Thiago Silva is 36, he moved to Chelsea and, although he hasn't been that bad, to me it looks as though he is struggling to keep up with the pace of the Premier League.
I have no doubts that players would love to join United but January is a tough time to move. Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Bruno Fernandes did it, and turned out to be great signings, but the same was not true for others who joined at this time of year.
FA Cup upsets are no fun for the losers
This weekend it's the FA Cup third round, a stage of the competition that's famous for upset. I was on the wrong end of one at Old Trafford when Leeds beat us 1-0. I don't remember a lot from the game except that we lost and it was a s**t performance from us. We deserved to lose.
Sometimes, if the big teams don't take this competition seriously then it can cause problems. If you put a weak team out, the opposition can be boosted and try everything to get through to the next round.
United take on Watford and I don't expect any complacency from them, especially after missing out on the League Cup final. I think Solskjaer may look to rotate a couple of players, but this is another opportunity to win a trophy and I'm sure they will be taking this seriously.
Spurs travel to Merseyside to take on Marine. I can't see an upset in this one, but Mourinho's players need to concentrate and just get the job done.
It's so important that the Spurs players don't underestimate anyone. If Spurs go there thinking that Marine will beat themselves then they will have a problem. They need to go there, be respectful, get the job done and go home.
Saturday 12 September, 12.30pm