With Manchester United suddenly looking like a team with confidence, how much of that is down to the signing of Bruno Fernandes?
Since signing for around £50 million at the end of January, Fernandes has surpassed what most expected of him at United. Five appearances, two goals and three assists – pretty good statistics for any midfielder. Can United’s resurgence be attributed to his arrival, or is that wide of the mark?
Let’s look at the Red Devils’ last eleven fixtures. Since the 2-0 defeat to Burnley on January 22, they have won 8 and drawn 3 in all competitions. Impressive form, to say that previous to those games, it was only 2 wins from 7 games – Ole Gunnar Solskjær was feeling the strain, as many were calling for Ed Woodward to relieve Ole of his duties.
Something changed in that United squad after the Burnley game. Poor form meant Top Four looked very much out of the picture two months ago, but fast forward to today – coronavirus shut down aside – and United look like they have a real chance at making the top four. It’s possible.
It’s impossible to tell whether or not the current EPL season will be completed, as odds are suggesting it’s possible but unlikely, but what’s clear is that United’s climb up the table is directly related to the arrival of Fernandes.
Fernandes is adored by the United Faithful. In a recent Sky Interview with Sky reporter Laura Woods he talked very humbly about the fact that “Ronaldo is an inspiration” for him. There are obvious comparisons with the two players mainly due to the fact they both transferred from Sporting Lisbon. Fernandes grew up watching his idol, and this obviously was a factor in joining the club.
Woods asked Fernandes if it was indeed he who was the catalyst for the remarkable upturn in form from Solskjær’s men. “We can talk about a new start after Bruno but is not about Bruno, it’s about the team”, Fernandes said. “One player doesn’t change a team. It changes when everyone pushes together for the same side.“
He then went on to suggest that potentially, his desire to win the ball back after losing it may have spurred other team mates on. “When you have one, two, three or four players that have that desire, you push the others”.
The truth is it is very difficult to pin all of the recent good form down to Fernandes. Odion Ighalo has grown into his position since his delayed arrival on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, so much so that Solskjær has discussed making the move permanent in the summer – although the suspension of the league has obviously drawn away any other talk in that area.
However, two things are certain. The fans love him, and he’s a hell of a player. Once the league returns – and we hope it will be soon – we may see even more brilliance from the Portuguese midfielder.
The assist against Manchester City for Anthony Martial – a cheeky, scooped lob from a free kick – is the sort of invention and creativity United have been lacking since Paul Pogba’s disappearance from the midfield.
Maybe, just maybe, United have found their magic man at long last.