Dimitar Berbatov: ‘It’d be harsh if ten Hag was to leave before Christmas’

Ex-Manchester United cult forward Dimitar Berbatov spoke to Betfair about Erik ten Hag’s tenure and Bruno Fernandes’ captaincy, offering a resounding message amidst tough times at Old Trafford.

Roy Keane was wrong to suggest that Bruno Fernandes shouldn’t be captain

While Berbatov, as you’ll soon read, was quick to lament the hard times that have fallen on the red side of Manchester, he was quick to defend an often-frustrating character – with Bruno Fernandes’ recent antics leaving lots to be desired.

In chatter between pundits Gary Neville and Roy Keane, the latter suggested Fernandes’ time as captain should come to an end. Berbatov drew off of his own experiences to empathise with the Portuguese midfielder.

‘I saw Gary (Neville) and Roy Keane’s comments and I agree with what Gary said. If you change the captaincy now, then it will only add to the turbulence in the team. It happened in pre-season when the armband was taken from Harry Maguire and given to Bruno, that will be bad for his morale.’

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‘If he is removed as Man United captain, then his performances will dip because it’s disrespectful to him. Bruno will be aware of the criticism regarding his behaviour and he will need to work on it. The reason for Fernandes’ current behaviour is due to how the team is performing. He’s not happy with it. I’ve been there myself and I know the feeling. It’s not a good one.’

‘When you’re the captain and things aren’t going well, you need to shout, and you need to be angry with the players around you. We know where he’s coming from with all this, but I don’t think the armband should be taken away from him.’

This final point is an intriguing one, given the overall outlook. United at times, have felt like a team deflated, even when they get points on the board. Berbatov perhaps finds pity with Fernandes, as the other members of Erik ten Hag’s eleven require some added guile.

Man United players need to be nastier – they lack leadership on the pitch

Like Keane and Neville before him, Dimitar Berbatov could mix it. Maybe it was down to the raw physicality of the Barclays era, yet the former striker’s mind is made up when it comes to this lacklustre attitude in the ranks.

‘Every player should be a leader in their own position. Everyone should want more from themselves and their teammates. They should all take responsibility. The performances aren’t good enough and things just aren’t working out. Even in games you manage to win, you can sense something is missing. Sometimes Man United players are too nice on the pitch. They need to be a bit nastier.’

‘Man United have a couple of players who are like this. They’re always shouting and in the faces of the opposition, but they need 11 players like this.’

No issues with ten Hag’s tactics or subs in Manchester derby defeat

Almost mirroring the Dutchman’s blasé attitude (or denial) post-City, Berbatov was sure ten Hag had set up as best he could. Again however, the team as a unit was what seemingly let things get out of hand in the 0-3 defeat at Old Trafford.

‘I didn’t see any so-called mistakes in Jonny Evans or Harry Maguire for example, so it was the team’s performance that wasn’t there. Erik ten Hag had his reasons for the tactical changes before the game but obviously they didn’t pay off. We’ll never know if things would’ve been better if Varane had played, but as I said, when you make one mistake and give a chance to Man City to take the lead, it’s almost impossible to win the game.’

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‘The first half was pretty even, the second half was dominated by Man City. Overall, at the moment, Man United are chasing City. Everyone knows that and can see it. Man United still haven’t woken up in the Premier League. There’s still a lot of work to be done if they even want to think about qualifying for the top four.’

‘I can’t even talk about winning trophies right now because when Man United win games, you can still see some cracks in the performance.’

It would be harsh to sack Erik ten Hag – an ‘ugly EFL Cup win’ against Newcastle would’ve made all the difference

Now, at the time of writing, Manchester United have repeated their triple despair from the weekend with a Carabao Cup defeat at home against Newcastle United. Before losing 0-3 however, Berbatov suggested that an ‘ugly win’ would’ve done wonders.

‘It would be harsh if Erik ten Hag was to leave before Christmas. Who would replace him? Because the Man United hot seat isn’t easy as we’ve all seen. I think everyone at the club is working hard to rehabilitate themselves in the eyes of everyone connected with the club.’

‘That only happens in the next game. If they lose against Newcastle, the spotlight will be on ten Hag again, but that’s football. I don’t know how long Man United’s patience will last, but I hope it doesn’t come to ten Hag losing his job. If Man United win, it’ll give them peace of mind for a while. I don’t care how, but Man United must beat Newcastle. I’ll back Man United to get an ugly win.’