Dimitar Berbatov Exclusive: A good week for United with happy Pogba inspiring the team

Going to Anfield to play the Champions and then away to a team fighting for their lives isn’t easy. But United didn’t lose either game which was important, and I think they should be happy with the performance against Liverpool and also against Fulham where they came from behind.

In the end, the chase continues. I don’t think only Liverpool and Man United are in the title race. Man City and Leicester are there too. But United should be happy with both games.

Sometimes teams that go on to be champions do not play like champions. They have ups and downs. They will have games where they win and play bad and they lose and play well. It is football. The important thing when the Premier League is done is who is first. Yes people will say you have lucky champions as other teams weren’t good enough, but it doesn’t matter because it is stated in the history that you are the champions.

United turned it around against Fulham and took the three points despite only really starting to play when they went behind.

To overcome negative results like 1-0 down and win the game is important. I do not like United coming from behind too much though. They should be winning against Fulham comfortably. However, it did show the attacking options and creativity that United have. It took a piece of magic from Paul Pogba to finish the move he made. It was a great goal.

Happy Pogba is inspiring the team

For me, in a team performance, some players can shine. It could be Pogba or Bruno Fernandes, but it is the mindset of the team as a whole to overcome results. People were criticising Pogba but now they should be praising him. Everyone would like to see Pogba playing like this as much as possible. If he is 100% fit, happy and settled in his environment with his focus only on football then his performances can be decisive.

Back in December his agent said he was unhappy and there was talk of him leaving, look at him now! The truth is out there somewhere – you know that film! You hear whispers and rumours. I say it as a joke, but you look at Pogba now and do you see someone who is unhappy? I see someone enjoying his football, scoring goals and intercepting the ball. He looks happy playing for the team. Maybe in December there were other factors, maybe it was an injury or other factors. However, for now, if he continues like this with the game he is showing, the quality is there to be a game changer.

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He is playing for one of the biggest teams in the world and is one of the game’s biggest stars. He must be happy because his body language looks like he is happy, fit and healthy. That is great for him and the team. He looks happy most of the time. Sometimes critics can affect you and your performance, but at the moment, he should be happy with himself.

Pogba is a bigger superstar than I was and the spotlight is bigger on him. The pressure on him is worse. He needs to perform and carry the team. When you are producing games like this you want to yell back at the critics and say ‘do you see me now, this is what I can do.’ Of course you are going to have bad games. All players go through this phase. At the moment, he should just be very pleased with himself. His qualities are game changing when the team needs them.

Fernandes is going through an off phase – but that happens

People are going to go through phases. Since Bruno came to United, he has always been great, either scoring or assisting. At one moment you will have a dip in form, it is normal to have this. The important thing is when you have that bad game that someone else steps up like Pogba did against Fulham.

If you are having a bad game, you need your teammates to step up and that is the good thing about having good players. You are going to have a few bad games in your season, but it is not something to be concerned about.

United will be well prepared to face Liverpool again

Once again, United will play Liverpool, seven days after their 0-0 draw. They can’t really surprise each other. The teams know each other so well. United know they have a chance and will have chances in the game. This time they need to be more concentrated about taking their chances and being solid at the back. Both teams will try to outsmart each other. But sometimes when you play so many games against each other it is difficult to surprise each other.

The FA Cup is very important for United. Every competition and game is. They are flying high in the league at the moment. Every trophy is important. They should aim high, field a strong team with one or two changes to give people a chance to play. But overall, go strong and try to win it.

It will be a big obstacle removed if they can beat Liverpool. It will be a giant step towards winning it, but they won’t be nearly there as they will have other teams to face in it.

My old teammate has joined the retirement club – what a career Wayne Rooney had

We could speak all day long about him. He was a great player, a great goalscorer, a great teammate who would help people integrate into the team. He was a great joker who would always train and play hard. He would also tackle hard. In my opinion, he deserves to be leading all-time goalscorer for Man United and England. There was no selfishness to him. A new chapter now starts in life for him at Derby as their manager where he starts a new profession.

I always cherish and respect a player who is not selfish and will do the dirty work. He was always going to give you the ball if you were in a better position than him. He lead the team brilliantly. He worked hard and even played as a midfielder when someone was injured.

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He would just sacrifice himself for the team. If Wayne Rooney can do it, anyone can. He was also open to new players coming into the new team. He had so much talent and it was great watching him train, play with him.

Wayne was a joker. He could pull a prank and also take a joke. He would always try and lift the mood and take of the care and make sure he could give players advice and as a manager, he had the chance to learn from the best in Sir Alex Ferguson. I’m sure he will take something from that and other managers he worked with. It is about learning from those managers and also implementing your own philosophy.

I wish him all the luck as it is not easy in the Championship. I never played there, but it is a tough league with many good teams and I wish him the best in this challenge.

Good to see Tottenham firing against Sheffield United

They did look good and that Ndombele goal was special. Did he mean it? Haha. He is turning into a smart talent and integrating into the team. This has benefitted the whole team and I’m sure Jose Mourinho is happy.

For me, they are still in the mix with Leicester and the others. It is tight at the top and it is interesting.

The chase is going to be great to watch. They will be there in the shadows. There is not too much stress on them to be mentioned as contenders, but they will be playing better if they are not under pressure and could surprise people.

In my opinion, I think the main teams need to keep an eye on each other. It’s very tight up there and it will be so interesting as teams will keep losing, drawing and winning games. Honestly, it is going to be tight and a must watch until the very end. You talk about United, City and Liverpool but you cannot underestimate Leicester or Spurs.

Pressure is on Frank Lampard, but he should get more time

It is a difficult situation for Frank Lampard and Chelsea. They have lost three of their last five games. They lost against Leicester which would have been a painful one against a rival in the title race. I hope they give Lampard more time. He is trying to build something there.


I don’t like to compare Lampard and Solsjkaer, but Chelsea have spent a lot of money on Werner and Havertz. Frank knows the environment there and I think he can turn it round there like Ole did at Man United.

Despite cup shock, Real Madrid should stick with Zidane

That is a big shock and surprise and it shows that things like this can happen in cup competitions. They are still second in La Liga although Atletico Madrid do have two games in hand. They are up there and have a chance to win the title. They are in the Champions League too. The manager just cannot start panicking so he just needs to calm everybody and show that these things can happen.

I think the blame is always together for the players and manager as they are one unit. When you lose you have to blame both.

I bet in the dressing room you will talk about the displeasure about what the team did on the pitch. Maybe they didn’t follow the rules, but the blame is for both players and managers. You are going to be angry after those defeats. You should be disappointed and want to do better next time. They will want to cover that mistake as soon as possible.

No surprise to see Luka Jovic do well on his Bundesliga return

Every league is different in my opinion. Some players play well in every league and some play well in only one league. Luka was familiar to the Bundesliga and at Eintracht they love him there. He was more secure and relaxed. He came off the bench and felt confident and bang he scores two goals.

Maybe the pressure was too much at Real Madrid and you don’t feel as confident so your form drops. It is only one game, but hopefully he can continue in that form.

Sometimes it is a necessity to take a step back. It is really a point of view. Going from Real Madrid to Eintracht Frankfurt may be a step back, but it is only a loan and you can go back there. Now you can correct your form and get your confidence back to show people what you can do.

It is down to the player to overcome the obstacle he had before at Real Madrid and he needs to show he is better than what you think he is. I’m pretty sure he was happy after the game with two goals in familiar surroundings and would have taken a stress off his shoulders.

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