Dimitar Berbatov has hit out at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ‘excuses’ over Manchester United’s fixture-pile up, saying he must focus on producing more consistent results.
Last week the Norwegian boss embarked on a huge rant about the club’s crammed schedule this season, claiming the team had been ‘set up to fail’ by the authorities after injuries to Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford in their 3-1 win at Everton.
But Berbatov, who played nearly 150 games for the Red Devils, insisted that fixture congestion at Old Trafford was nothing new and believes the issue at hand is picking up more points, claiming the team face ’embarrassment’ if they cannot string more positive performances together.
‘This season is different, there are a lot of games in a short space of time,’ he told Betfair. ‘Matches in the Premier League, in Europe and then all of a sudden international breaks, but this cannot be used as an excuse.
‘United have faced fixture congestion for many years, during my time and even before my time. United are used to playing in the Premier League, Europe and in the cups – we used to win them all as well.
‘There can be no excuses, the situation is the same for everyone else, the performances are just not consistent enough. They need to improve sooner rather than later because other teams will get a head of them and they could become a real embarrassment.’
Solskjaer said the football schedule was ‘an absolute shambles’ after the game at Everton and said he had ‘had enough’.
‘I said to you before, I want to talk about the kick-off time. They set up the boys to fail,’ he told the press.
‘We’ve got Luke Shaw injured today because we’ve been to Turkey, we’ve played loads of games already this season, we’ve been to Turkey on Wednesday night, back in Thursday morning and we’re playing Saturday in a lunchtime kick-off, it’s an absolute shambles.’
United have suffered one of their worst ever starts to a Premier League season, with Solskjaer picking up just ten points from his first seven games – which has led to speculation he could be axed.
Their victory at Goodison Park offered him a reprieve, but Berbatov said getting a result when the pressure is on will only take the team so far.
‘It’s like United need to be under pressure to produce a winning performance. But there’s only so long you can operate like that – they won’t produce the win every time the pressure is piled on.
‘In the end, it isn’t going to finish well if they continue being so inconsistent. The team needs to find consistency and produce good football game after game.
‘I still think the players believe in Solskjaer and they like him. I think he has their trust and they have his. There’s something that just isn’t working right in games when they are losing.’
Berbatov, who also played for Fulham, was part of a hugely successful period at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson after joining from Tottenham for £31million in 2008. He won the Premier League twice and scored 56 goals for the club.