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Wednesday, May 31, 2023


A former Old Trafford favorite doesn’t think an early European exit would ruin the Red Devils’ 2020-21 campaign

Manchester United being eliminated at the Champions League group stage “would not be a failure”, according to Dimitar Berbatov.

United returned to Europe’s biggest stage after a one-season absence by securing a third-place Premier League finish in 2019-20.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side was rewarded with a tough draw in Group H alongside Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, and Istanbul Basaksehir, but they have managed to pick up nine points out of a possible 15 to top the pool heading into matchday six.

It has been suggested that such a scenario would leave Solskjaer on the brink of the sack, but Berbatov thinks the Norwegian’s future is more likely to hinge on how well the team performs in the Premier League.

The former United striker told Betfair: “Looking at how they have performed this season, I don’t think being knocked out in the group stage can be considered a failure, it will be very disappointing, don’t get me wrong.

“If they were in the final last year and were knocked out of the group then that would be a failure, but they weren’t.

“If they do get knocked out then yes, it will be very disappointing because it is currently in their hands and they have to take one point in their last game.

“But, when you leave it to the last moment, it’s never a good feeling and I’m sure they will be nervous.

“If they do get knocked out, they will go into the Europa League, I’m sure there will be a bit of pressure on Solskjaer, but I believe his future will depend on not just how they perform in Europe but also in the Premier League as well, that is what he will be judged on.

“At the moment it’s a roller-coaster like it has been for the past few seasons at United!”

Berbatov says the Red Devils’ 5-0 win over Leipzig at Old Trafford in October will count for little when the two teams meet again in Germany, but he is optimistic that Solskjaer’s men will pick up the point they need to qualify for the knockout stages.

He added: “I am confident and I believe that they can still qualify with a result against RB Leipzig.

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“Looking at the match, I am a bit worried because Leipzig are a good team and I don’t think anyone thinks otherwise, they are going to cause problems for United, even though last time out United won 5-0 don’t let that fool you.

“Every game is different, and Leipzig will push with everything they have to qualify. They have a great coach, they have a good team and based on how United have performed this season, for me, it’s going to be really difficult for them, they need to have their best game to get the job done.

“I hope I’m wrong and I hope it’s 5-0 to United like last time, but why leave it to the last game? I suppose there’s nothing they can do about previous results now, they just have to do their job next week.”


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