Man Utd: Solskjaer warns Fernandes to ‘not boil over’
Manchester United coaches are challenging Bruno Fernandes to improve in matches against the Premier League top six teams, according to reports. The Portugal international has been in devastating form ever since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon 13 months ago. He’s scored 17 goals and registered 11 assists this season, propelling his side to second in the table in the process.
Nobody expected Fernandes to make such an impact when he joined from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020.
But the 26-year-old has exceeded all expectations at Old Trafford so far, drawing comparisons with Eric Cantona ever since his arrival.
Fernandes has been driving United’s season this term, helping the club up to second in the table – behind only Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Yet The Athletic say the club’s coaches still aren’t entirely satisfied and are challenging him to improve his record in matches against their closest rivals.
Fernandes scored the winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup recently, coming off the bench to net a sublime free kick.
But, in the top flight, he’s struggled to make his mark.
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Fernandes failed to score a goal or register an assist in both matches against Arsenal, who have taken four points off Solskjaer’s side this season.
He also drew a blank in goalless draws with Manchester City and Chelsea at Old Trafford, while also struggling to make his mark in the Carabao Cup clash with the former.
Fernandes was subbed off as United lost 6-1 to Tottenham at Old Trafford earlier in the season, with Jose Mourinho’s team turning on the style that day.
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And he’s also yet to score against Liverpool in the league since his move.
While United coaches want Fernandes to kick on, they are obviously delighted with his performances for the club so far.
And Solskjaer recently hailed him, expressing a belief the Portugal international was the perfect fit for his side – and them for him.
“Bruno has come in and helped the team, no doubt about that,” he said.
“Bruno came in at a time when we needed that type of player and he came into a team that makes his attributes and skills come to fruition.
“He’s come to a team that suits him and he suits the team. That goes hand in hand.
“If the players don’t run, Bruno can’t play his passes. If Bruno doesn’t play his passes then they can’t run.
“He’s part of a chain here and I’m sure that Bruno will say that he also appreciates his teammates and that they help him through games.”
Meanwhile, former midfielder Paul Ince recently compared Fernandes to Eric Cantona.
“When I look at Cantona, we had already won the Cup Winners’ Cup against Barcelona and the FA Cup so we weren’t that far away, it was just the league that was eluding us at that time,” he said.
“I had seen Eric play in the Charity Shield at Wembley when he scored a hat-trick [for Leeds against Liverpool] and thought that he looked a decent player, let’s see what he looks like when he comes to Old Trafford.
“He walks in, 6ft 3in, a statue of a man, with a massive presence about him. He just sat there and belonged at Old Trafford.
“He came in and knitted us all together. He was that missing piece in the jigsaw. The goals he created, he made everyone raise their game. I think that is what Fernandes has done.
“Eric could do absolutely everything. It was just those moments where you had to win the game. Much-needed goals. You know, those moments when you start to worry, start to panic, and the game is not going your way and you don’t know where the goal is coming from.
“That is when he would pop up and score a vital goal. I think that is probably the same with Fernandes. He scores vital goals. He is the talisman.
“Sometimes you might not see him for 25 minutes but he has always got that technical ability to do something magic at the right time. Whether it is a penalty, a wonderful ball, a free-kick, he has always got that in his locker so you can never rule him out of any game.
“The players love him and he has got a character about him. We talk about character all the time and how we are losing that trait in football. But there was a time when I watched him have a go at [Victor] Lindelof. He puts demands on players.
“For someone to come from a foreign country, Portugal, to a club like Manchester United and put demands on his players.
“He is a winner and it is infectious.”
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