Bruno Fernandes is still firmly Manchester United’s main man almost 12 months since his arrival… it’s hard to think of another player having such a transformative effect on this club
- Man United snatched victory over Wolves with a late Marcus Rashford strike
- Bruno Fernandes got the assist with a glorious ball, underlining his importance
- The midfielder has had an incredible transformative effect in his year at the club
- Fernandes’ hunger as much as his goals and assists have made him the talisman
The question has been asked numerous times since he made his debut in this fixture 11 months ago. Just where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes?
When the club’s new £68million signing was thrown in against Wolves just six days after joining from Sporting Lisbon, and with United in some turmoil, no-one expected the Portuguese playmaker to have the impact he has.
That game finished goalless and this one was heading that way too until Fernandes launched the late attack that led to United’s injury-time winner from Marcus Rashford.
Bruno Fernandes’ transformative effect on Manchester United was evident against Wolves
The Portuguese star provided the pass for Marcus Rashford to score a last-gasp winner
Fernandes has been at United almost a year and is firmly the most crucial player at the club
It’s hard to think of a player who has had such a transformative effect on a team.
‘He has instantly made them much better,’ said Amazon pundit Steve McManaman on Tuesday night. ‘When Wayne (Rooney) and (Eric) Cantona joined they were the best team, but Bruno Fernandes has dragged them forward and made them a better team.’
The 26-year-old has become a talisman for a United team not short of big-name players. He has played in all 29 Premier League games for the club since facing Wolves on his debut, starting 28 of them.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the bold decision to put Fernandes on the bench at West Ham earlier this month, he had to bring him on at half-time with United a goal down. They won 3-1.
Fernandes made his debut against Wolves nearly a year ago and has been irreplaceable since
In those 29 games, he has been directly involved in 32 goals – scoring 18 and setting up another 14.
But Solskjaer knows more the statistics don’t tell the full story. ‘The goals, the assists, the numbers he has produced and the chances he creates, but also the will to win,’ said the United manager before kick-off last night.
‘He’s got an incredible hunger to play football and to win. He’s not just here to play football and enjoy himself, he’s here to win.’
One of Fernandes’s other great strengths is that he isn’t afraid to take chances. No-one gives the ball away more and it can be costly at times, as it was when United were pegged back at Leicester on Saturday.
But he has the creativity, and unpredictability, to unlock opponents unlike any other United player.
Fernandes shows no fear on the pitch, willing to make risky passes and try difficult chances
This wasn’t Fernandes’s finest performance by some stretch, which might explain why United were disappointing too.
And he actually wasted United’s best chance of the first half, scuffing a volley straight at Rui Patricio when Mason Greenwood picked him out at the back post.
But Fernandes didn’t let his head drop. He didn’t drift out of the game. He demanded the ball more, moved around the pitch more trying to find a breakthrough for his team. It was no surprise that his through ball deep into added time led to the late winner.
A delighted Solskjaer said: ‘We go back to Bruno’s debut against Wolves. We are a different outfit now, better mentally and physically. That belief has come through performances and results, and players that we have on the pitch that can change games in a second.
‘Bruno didn’t play his best game definitely, but he was always in and around and creating chances. We kept going and he’s got that knack of always looking for that pass. In the end it worked.’
Heading into 2021 and the first anniversary of his move to United, he is still very much the main man.