• September 17, 2021

Exclusive: Current Manchester United team compared to title-winning 2008/09 side as Dimitar Berbatov says Cristiano Ronaldo return puts more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to deliver

 Exclusive: Current Manchester United team compared to title-winning 2008/09 side as Dimitar Berbatov says Cristiano Ronaldo return puts more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to deliver


Dimitar Berbatov has talked up comparisons between Manchester United’s current front four and his 2008-09 vintage, saying Cristiano Ronaldo’s return puts even more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Berbatov spent four years at Old Trafford between 2008-2012, winning two Premier League titles whilst in one of the best forward lines the top-flight has ever seen.

Berbatov, Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez were the league’s dominant force in 2008/09

AFP

Berbatov, Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez were the league’s dominant force in 2008/09

The Bulgarian played alongside Ronaldo after signing from Tottenham, while Sir Alex Ferguson was also able to call on the talents of Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

Ronaldo made a sensational return to United last month, leaving Juventus in a deal worth £12.86milion.

And Berbatov is just as thrilled to see his old teammate back in the fold as anyone, as he told talkSPORT ahead of his possible second debut.

“I think everyone is excited, even people who don’t like him or United,” said Betfair Ambassador, Berbatov.

“He’s home now, nobody expected it, me as well, I was shocked but in a positive way.

Ronaldo spoke to his new boss, and former teammate, Solskjaer

Getty

Ronaldo spoke to his new boss, and former teammate, Solskjaer

Ronaldo has been pictured in training this week as he gears up for his second Man United debut

GETTY

Ronaldo has been pictured in training this week as he gears up for his second Man United debut

“I hope everybody is going to get that mentality boost and finally, after so long, challenge and win the Premier League.”

United haven’t won the title since Berbatov was still a Premier League player, back in 2013, but after re-signing Ronaldo they may finally have a front-four worthy of challenging again.

Ronaldo adds to the depth of fellow Portugal international Bruno Fernandes, who has set the standard in the No.10 role since signing, along with the exciting English pair of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

In the 2008/09 title-winning campaign, United’s front-four combined for 44 goals, along with 25 assists, as they beat Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool to the league crown by four points.

United’s 2008/09 front four chopped and changed, but racked up 44 goals and 25 assists

United’s 2008/09 front four chopped and changed, but racked up 44 goals and 25 assists

Berbatov said of Ronaldo’s impact on the dressing room: “He knows how to win things and that’s why it’s very important that the young players around him start learning what a true winner is.

“When you need that special moment if the game is 0-0 or you’re having a bad day you need that special someone in your team like Ronaldo.”

However, comparing the 2008/09 attacking options to this season’s current crop and their potential contribution paints an interesting picture.

Across their respective leagues in England, Italy and Germany, United’s new front-four managed 66 league goals in the 2020/21 season, as well as 35 assists.

This is how United could line up with their new foursome

This is how United could line up with their new foursome

Should the quartet get near those figures for United in the current campaign, there’s every chance they could well improve on last term’s second place finish as rivals Man City ran away with the trophy.

When asked about comparisons between his front-four and the current one, Berbatov said: “Ronaldo is still going strong which is unbelievable, the only constant is Ronaldo in this case.

“I enjoyed being part of the team. I enjoyed playing with these great champions and players, I enjoyed every minute, the ups and downs.”

It might not be all good news though, especially for Solskjaer, who Berbatov believes has to break his duck and win a trophy this season after a blockbuster summer, which also saw the arrival of World Cup winner Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United are yet to lift a trophy despite coming close

Getty

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United are yet to lift a trophy despite coming close

“It’s the same with [Mauricio] Pochettino in PSG, expectation rockets high,” Berbatov said. 

“He needs to win everything and it’s the same now with Ole and Manchester United because Ronaldo is there.

“If Ole doesn’t win silverware then it’s probably going to be considered a disappointing season.

“Ole has [powerful] options going forward with the striker position, it puts more pressure on him, it puts more pressure on the strikers, but football is that sometimes – pressure.”

Dimitar Berbatov was speaking ahead of the launch of Betfair’s new VAR-Batov series, where the Premier League legend will be judging the unfair moments in football that affect so many punters. Watch the first in the series on Betfair’s twitter next week.

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