Dimitar Berbatov: Sarri was right to lock Chelsea players in the dressing room

Fernando Llorente
Dimitar was delighted for Fernando Llorente after the Spurs man headed a late winner against Watford

Maurizio Sarri has been backed into second favourite in the Next Manager to Leave market after castigating his players following a 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth, but Dimitar Berbatov insists the Blues boss was right to have an inquest in the dressing room...

"It's good to have these debates straight after the game; talk like real men, and have it out with each other. If you leave things too long to settle, they might fester. You can clear the air if you talk when angry - it's when you're really honest."

'Something had to be done' after 4-0 thrashing

Chelsea have been up and down in recent weeks but no-one expected them to get beaten 4-0 at Bournemouth; it was an extraordinary result.

A tight 1-0 or 2-1 defeat you can put down to a 'glitch in the system' but a loss of that scale (their biggest in the league in 22 years) is a concern, especially with the race for top four looking so tight this season.

The players won't have liked Maurizio Sarri publicly criticising them in press conferences in recent weeks, but I think he was right to have an inquest in the dressing room after the game; after a 4-0 defeat something had to be done.

I've not heard of a manager asking his coaching staff to leave the dressing room so he could have it out with his players, but every manager has his own approach, and he must have seen something that angered him.

It's good to have these debates straight after the game; talk like real men, and have it out with each other. If you leave things too long to settle, they might fester. You can clear the air if you talk when angry - it's when you're really honest.

Not the time to make rash decisions

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We've seen before at Chelsea how much power the players have but at the end of the day, the manager is in charge. I don't know if it was a power play from Sarri, but as I said it was right to clear the air after the game.

I know from experience of working under Claudio Ranieri that Italian managers like to push players hard, and that doesn't always go down well with players.

But I hope we don't get to a situation where the owner, once again, has to choose between the manager and the players. Sarri has onl just arrived and needs time.

Nerves will be a factor in title race

I was surprised to see Liverpool only getting a point against Leicester but they are still strong favourites for the title - five points is a big gap; although it might seem small to a few of their players now!

The Leicester game was the first time we have seen signs of cracks from Liverpool, but this is natural as the finishing line gets closer - football players are human beings and doubts will inevitably creep in. Negative thoughts can start going through your mind, to the extent where you almost sabotaging yourself. It's about being strong and just concentrating on your game.

Man City were also the victims of a surprise result at Newcastle but - despite suggestions of a 'lack of plan B' - they won't change the way they play. Pep Guardiola wants them to control possession, be patient and create opportunities and it's the right way to play for them; the defeat at St James' Park just highlighted how difficult it is to get results in the Premier League and that's what makes it so interesting!

Delighted for Llorente

And let's not forget Spurs in the title race; they could be dark horses now. It was a massive win against Watford after being a goal down and as a fellow member of the strikers' union, I was absolutely delighted for Fernando Llorente.

It was a bad miss in the first half when he scooped the ball over the bar from a couple of yards out with his knee but he kept on battling and was rewarded at the end. You could see the sheer relief on his face in the celebrations - it would have felt better than sex!

We also have to give Mauricio Pochettino credit for sticking with Llorente after he didn't play particularly well in the past two games. This is the support you need from your manager - when you have that faith, misses don't affect you as much.

Pochettino will also have been delighted to have Son Heung-min back in the team; his pace, dribbling and shooting ability adds to much to this Spurs team. All the best players transfer from Bayer Leverkusen to Tottenham...

Are Tottenham genuinely in the title race? Ideally they will sign someone before the window closes but I'm not expecting anything big to happen to be honest.

And if Mauricio Pochettino can guide Spurs to top three with this small squad and all the issues of playing at Wembley, he will deserve a medal.

Expect maximum points for top two at the weekend


Both Man City and Liverpool face tough looking games on paper, with Arsenal visiting the Etihad and West Ham hosting the Reds, but I expect them both to win.

Arsenal will pose City some problems but Pep Guardiola's team know they simply must win and I think that desire will get them over the line.

West Ham often raise their game for big teams at home but they are leaking too many goals and Liverpool's front three will be too much for them on the day.

Win £1,000,000 by picking six correct scores!

Get involved with our free-to-play Football Jackpots this weekend for your chance to win £1,000,000. Here are Dimitar's predictions to hopefully point you in the right direction...

Everton 1-2 Wolves
Palace 1-1 Fulham
Brighton 1-1 Watford
Cardiff 0-2 Bournemouth
Leicester 1-2 Man Utd
Roma 2-2 Milan

Dimitar Berbatov,

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