Dimitar Berbatov Exclusive: Time to start getting behind Sterling

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho sends a message to the Juventus fans
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Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov reflects on an action packed week of Champions League football, where Raheem Sterling and Jose Mourinho hit the headlines again, and looks ahead to a huge Manchester derby...

"This is one of England's best and most important players and the English media should be getting behind him - support your own player!"

Don't let penalty furore overshadow Sterling's performance

Manchester City were absolutely superb against Shakhtar on Wednesday, scoring some great goals and playing good football. But the headlines are all about the penalty Raheem Sterling 'won'.

It was one of those things that can happen when you don't get your feet together properly. It certainly wasn't intentional but the mistake was from the referee in calling it a foul, no-one else.

I know there was the one famous occasion when Robbie Fowler told the ref he was wrong to award a penalty, but it's not the players' job to do that, and I don't see what all the fuss is about with Sterling. What's the ref going to do? Cancel the penalty? That didn't happen when Fowler spoke to the ref.

Could Gabriel Jesus have missed the penalty on purpose? No chance! Strikers want to score goals.

Sterling is a player who seems to draw negative headlines whatever he does, but this shouldn't overshadow what he did during the game - he scored a fantastic goal, and played really well.

This is one of England's best and most important players and the English media should be getting behind him - support your own player!

Like the Manchester United of old...

What a turnaround from Jose Mourinho's team in Turin on Wednesday. Juventus scored a phenomenal goal through Cristiano Ronaldo and could have been three or four up, hitting the woodwork twice, but Manchester United stuck in there, didn't give up and were rewarded in the end. It was like old school United!

The game once again showed the importance of set pieces. Juventus had the better of the game, but United scored a great free-kick through Juan Mata and then a second after a good Ashley Young delivery. Yes, they had a slice of luck there, but it was one of those crosses that goalkeepers and defenders hate.

Mata wasn't in the team much at the start of the season but he's played an increasingly important role in recent weeks and the way he celebrated the goal - running over to the coaching staff - showed what a team player he is. He understands that the team is the most important thing and that some weeks he won't be in the side. A great professional.

Like with Sterling, a lot of the post-match headlines were about Mourinho's reaction to the Juventus fans at the end of the game. Was it the right thing to do? No, but we're all human. He must have been getting a lot of abuse from the home fans and it shouldn't overshadow what was a fantastic result for his team.

Tantalising derby in prospect

With both teams getting positive results in the Champions League, the Manchester derby clash on Sunday couldn't have been set up better. City are in great shape of course, scoring goals for fun, but United have had some positive results, showing good spirit to come back from behind more than once and it will be difficult for both teams.

I'm surprised that City are such strong favourites for the match (they trade at just [1.43] on the Exchange, with United as big as [9.0]), but that will be good news for me when I bet on Man Utd and win some money!

Of course, United defenders will have to be on top form to keep out Sterling, Aguero and co, but Juventus were also odds-on favourites and had the likes of Ronaldo and Dybala in their ranks, so it can be done.

The betting markets also expect plenty of goals here (over 2.5 goals is around [1.5]) but these derby games don't always go in the way you anticipate. The players and fans are charged up and the games can be a bit scrappy, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a low scoring affair.

An important win for Spurs

It's still going to be very difficult for Tottenham to qualify from their Champions League group, but the win over PSV on Tuesday was very important, for confidence and mentality going into the next few weeks.

I was delighted to see Harry Kane on the scoresheet yet again. People have been writing shit about him this season for not scoring in every single game, but he stepped up when it matters.

Harry Winks was also excellent on the night, which was great to see. He's only 22 but took the responsibility as the only deep midfielder. It shows that you can be experienced even at a young age.

Did you see the 14-year-old in Paraguay who made his first team debut and scored? The kid probably hasn't had sex yet but is scoring in a massive game! Age doesn't matter when you're good enough.

The win means Tottenham are in good shape to qualify for the Europa League at least and, as I've said before, that would be a good competition for them to target. They need to win a trophy and it's a great competition despite what some people say.

Jokanovic deserves more time

Another one of my old teams, Fulham, are having a tough time at the moment, and the manager is under pressure but people quickly forget about what Slaviša Jokanović has achieved at Craven Cottage. He's a great coach.

They're facing teams with bigger budgets and better players and it was always going to be a struggle this season. Now's the time to stick together, there shouldn't even be a mention of getting rid of Jokanović.

He wants to play good football and that is admirable - it's easy to say from the outside that they should change their approach but he knows the players inside out and how they can play. But there probably is a case to suggest they should play in a different away against the top teams, starting at Anfield on Sunday.


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