Dimitar Berbatov: Premier League is back and so is the controversy

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder's Sheffield United can count themselves hard done by

Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov discusses the first night back in the Premier League, Tottenham v Manchester United and Timo Werner's transfer to Chelsea...

On the Spurs v United Berbatov derby: "I want both teams to be in the Champions League, I want both teams to be champions of England because both teams are in my heart and I respect them so much."

It was great to see Premier League football back but it wasn't such a great night for goal-line technology. I was watching Aston Villa v Sheffield United and, like everyone else, I saw what happened. The ball clearly went over the line and Sheffield United will feel hard done by, I think they even saw that goal from the moon.

It was a very strange situation and unusual for the technology not to work. By the look on the goalkeeper Orjan Nyland's face you could tell he couldn't believe it either. Over all, it was a pretty even match, both teams fought hard. After such a long break it's understandable that some of the quality we are used to wasn't there. For the first game back, it was ok.

One mistake too many for Luiz

In the other match - Man City v Arsenal - it was a bad day for David Luiz. You can easily judge and criticise, and he probably deserves it in a way. You could argue and say he came off the bench and wasn't ready, but that first mistake for the goal comes from underestimating the danger and he was too confident in thinking it would be easy to control.

David Luiz.jpeg

When you make a mistake it plays on your mind and that can lead to other problems, which is exactly what happened to Luiz in giving away a penalty later in the game and getting a red card. It's sad to see because he has been a good defender but obviously something isn't going right for him at the moment. Everybody has a bad game and makes mistakes, but maybe in his case it is now one too many.

Big game Friday night in the race for top four

I'm excited to watch two of my former clubs, Tottenham and Manchester United, meet on Friday night. I'm excited because football is back and I will be happy if everyone stays injury free, especially in this first game. I do really enjoy watching my former teams.

If United win then it will give them a massive boost and they will believe that they can get into the top four. They already know that they are good and have players, but they need that win. It's unfortunate that they have to play Spurs now, straight after the break, so this is a tough test for them. They need to be consistent from now until the end of the season. It's not going to be easy to finish in the top four but they will go out there and want those three points.

I'm hoping to see some good football in this match, but I know at points it is going to look like a friendly game, because of the situation. I hope the players can compensate with goals and great football.

Sometimes you expect great football and then you're bored to death. As a player, it was exactly the same sometimes. You knew that fans were expecting a great game, like our matches against City or Liverpool, but sometimes it's a tight tactical battle and as a player you have to listen to what the coach is telling you and there's no room for improvisation. That can make for a boring game.

Spurs v United - the Berbatov derby

People always ask who I support - Spurs or United - and I'm so tired of that question. I support both of course! I want both teams to be in the Champions League, I want both teams to be champions of England because both teams are in my heart and I respect them so much.

When I watch this game, I am for no one, I just want to see good football, imagination, desire and passion. I can never choose a side. I spent five years at Bayer Leverkusen, the longest time I've been at any club, they are in my heart as well, and following the path of logic, I was there the longest so this should be the team I support the most.

United have the chance to put pressure on Chelsea. It can give you a psychological edge, when you win your game and the next day the other team play. Players think about it. I will be surprised if the players start flying around like normal in this first game back. It will be more tactical of a tactical battle.

I hope Spurs finish as high up as possible, seven points from the top four is a big difference, but sometimes you can make up ground and surprise people. Next season will be the decisive one for people who are judging Jose Mourinho. Sometimes a team has to take a step back to take two steps forward.

I understand fans being critical after what happened to Mauricio Pochettino and, the different style of play under Mourinho, but in the end this is the situation Spurs are in at the moment. Mourinho is there and he is doing his own thing and you can judge him on next season.

In the end, Pochettino will probably return to Spurs one day, I heard an interview where he said he would like to go back there one day and everybody loves him there for what he did. Maybe one day he will be back, but at the moment Mourinho is there, a coach who has won so many trophies in his career, who deserves respect and time to make his mark.

Fred is key for United's attacking players

At first, Fred had a difficult time at United, getting used to the tempo, with the speed of the games and the challenges. It's not easy, coming from a different league, and sometimes he spent too much time on the ball and lost possession easily. Slowly but surely, however, his game has changed and he has become used to the Premier League.

Fred in action 1280.jpg

Fred's improvement reminds me of how Moussa Sissoko started at Spurs, people didn't rate him but now he's player of the season already and the fans love him. Patience pays off and, like Sissoko, Fred is proving that he has turned it around. He isn't getting much attention because Bruno Fernandes is still in the spotlight and Pogba is fit again, but Fred has his place there in midfield and if he is happy to not have the headlines but play regularly, I think he will take that.

If you are an attacking player and you know that someone has your back, you are going to go forward freely and not be afraid to lose the ball. When you know you have Fred covering your back and you speak before the game, and have that understanding that your team mate will be there for you, it makes it much easier as an attacking player to take risks and play those passes that can cause a lot of trouble.

Werner signing boosts Chelsea but they're still not title challengers

Timo Werner was strongly connected to Liverpool but he has chosen Chelsea instead. There are a number of players linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge and it looks as though he is going to be somebody's replacement. It will be a whole new experience for Werner, he is going to see that the Premier League is different to the Bundesliga and I'm curious to see how he will fit into the Chelsea team. I think if Willian leaves the club the young German will be an excellent replacement. Both players are really sharp, really quick, and they can both be strong on the counter attack.

The only thing that Werner will need to work on is playing in tight spaces because in the Premier League he will play against teams that put 10 men behind the ball so there won't be a lot of space for him to use his speed. I'm looking forward to seeing how he reacts to this environment.

The Bundesliga is a little bit stricter about fouls, so the physical side of the game could also be a challenge for him, especially when you play against Sheffield United. They don't care who you are, they go strong into their challenges. On the other hand his speed and sharpness can be a real bonus for him and his new team.

Werner is moving to a bigger club, to play in one of the best leagues in the world. It's a logical next step for him. He will already know a lot about the Premier League, he will know what the football is like and he will certainly know when he starts playing. In this situation there are two scenarios: everything will click straight away, he'll be scoring and assisting like he has been doing for Leipzig, or it will take a bit of time for him to adjust to the Premier League's speed and physicality.

I remember when I moved from Germany to the UK I need a month or two to get really used to everything in the league, and that is a process. It's important for Werner to not be discouraged if he has a couple of bad games in the beginning and keep working hard.

Chelsea have got their man but I still think they have a lot to do to become a title challenging side. Werner is not Messi or Ronaldo. It is a good step in the right direction, though, and Chelsea are probably going to go for other players to bolster their squad, but signing Werner is a good start.

Havertz should ignore Real Madrid interest

Kai Havertz continues to impress and he has attracted a lot of attention, including the attention of Real Madrid. For me, at the moment he shouldn't consider any offer from Real Madrid. It is a tough place to go and, if you are not prepared mentally for the high demands that they have there, then you are going to have a difficult time.


Look at Luka Jovic and Edin Hazard. Thibaut Courtois was criticised at the start, Gareth Bale still gets booed and even Cristiano Ronaldo used to get booed, which was unbelievable. It is tempting to imagine yourself in the white shirt at the Bernabeu, but you need to be really prepared for the reality. Havertz is still very young, even if he stays at Leverkusen for one more year it will be good for his development physically, technically and mentally.

Madrid have a big squad with great players and it would be difficult for him to play every game in my opinion. He is definitely a player for the future but he wants to be playing now, so Leverkusen is the best place for him to develop and grow. He isn't going to lose anything staying there, he is a start now and playing regularly in the Bundesliga and people are taking note of him. I know Leverkusen, I know how they develop their players and the nurturing environment there. He won't lose anything staying there for another year, it will only be beneficial for him.

I'll never understand fans booing Bale

Gareth Bale hasn't been getting much game time. Playing behind closed doors could be helpful for him and his confidence, but I imagine fans will still boo him while they are watching on TV. I never understand the way some of the Real Madrid fans boo their own players.

I think the criticism he gets it a bit more personal than other players. Whatever he does, even if he scores five goals in a game, there will still be something the fans will criticise. I often wonder, with the amount of stick he gets, why is he still there? But something is working for him and he likes it there, but whatever he does there is always going to be some negativity towards him and I don't understand it.

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