Manchester United’s shocking home defeat to Burnley in late January threatened to dismantle the slight progress they’ve made. However, that was the last time they tasted defeat. Since then they’ve gone 11 games unbeaten. One name has been consistent in that impressive run. Bruno Fernandes.
The Portuguese import made an instant impact when he arrived from Sporting Lisbon in January. He produced a rugged display on his debut against Wolves. Still, it was obvious it was just a matter of time before he would make an impact.
Bruno Fernandes the creative force
Despite missing the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, United have looked dangerous with Fernandes pulling the strings. Notwithstanding the fact that his United career is still in its infancy, the impact has been seismic. With the 25-year-old in the team, United are more cohesive and creative. He has developed instant rapport with players such as Anthony Martial, as evidenced in the Manchester Derby where he deftly assisted the Frenchman to score.
Furthermore, he leads his squad in almost every attacking category since joining the club, including shots on target, chances created, and passes into the final third. Memories of the sideways passing and tepid tempo from the last few years are gradually melting away.
It has been ages since there was genuine optimism and excitement around Old Trafford. The doom and gloom brought partly by the shock Burnley defeat has lifted. The Portuguese has not lost a game since arriving at United and everyone looks excited when he receives the ball in the final third. His crisp passing, his eagerness to shoot from distance and tenacity have made him a fan favourite.
The club is no longer in crisis. The wins over Chelsea and Manchester City have shown that if they add one or two key players, plus Fernandes, they could be a force next season. Only Liverpool have collected more points than United since Fernandes arrived in Manchester.
Fernandes leadership qualities
Fernandes is not only admired for his footballing abilities but also his leadership qualities. He was Sporting’s captain before arriving in Manchester. He’s demanding things from players, like where to play the ball and where to pass. Former United captain Bryan Robson has been particularly impressed with Fernandes’ leadership skills, something which has lacked at United in the last few years.
Fernandes can be the building block
There’s no doubt that Fernandes’ best is still to come. With uncertainty surrounding Pogba’s future, United’s ongoing rebuild should be around him. With Fred blossoming and Nemanja Matic getting back to his old self, United finally have the building blocks of a title challenging team.
Although it seemed that the deal to bring Fernandes at United was dead at some point you can agree that he was worth waiting for. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now creating a team that can hopefully challenge the likes of Liverpool and Man City with the Portuguese at the centre of it.
It’s too early to know exactly how Fernandes will fare for United in the long term and how sustainable his form will be. However, in the past month, he has already transformed the team immensely. Once stale and listless, there’s excitement and expectations when the team attacks, especially if Fernandes is in the driver’s seat.
Their momentum has been temporarily halted by the break in play because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that the Bruno Fernandes era is just only starting.
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