Bruno Fernandes has been nothing short of sensational since he has joined Manchester United. He solved our number 10 crisis almost instantly and has become the focal point around which Manchester United have started to build up plays. We take a look at what has changed since his arrival and why he has had the Eric Cantona like effect on Manchester United.
1. BRUNO IS A GOALSCORING MACHINE
With Bruno Fernandes on the pitch, there is always a chance that United will score. Our Portuguese magnifico currently has 23 goals for the club since his arrival in January. Another thing that ought to be mentioned here is that he is a midfielder. These numbers are supposed to be for strikers but he’s pulled it off. This was actually previously known about him – the fact that he scores a lot of goals from midfield when he smashed home 32 goals in the season prior to his arrival in Manchester.
The reason he scores so many goals is simple. He gets into positions that create the opportunity for him. His movement is excellent. Also, he is an excellent penalty and free-kick taker with a good range for shooting. These qualities combined make him the threat he is and it is important for teams to mark him tightly because if they don’t his predatory instincts will make them pay.
2. BRUNO SOLVED UNITED'S NUMBER 10 ISSUE
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likes to set his team up in a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 with three pacy forwards who like to cut inside and a double pivot to provide defensive cover to a, currently, shaky defense. In this system, the bulk of creativity falls on the number 10. Before Bruno’s arrival, Manchester United had tested with Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, and Jesse Lingard in the position but all three were not creative enough and as a result, United struggled to break down teams that sat in a low block. Because of this United lost easy games which they are technically supposed to win and sat 9th in the table.
At the point of Bruno’s arrival, Solskjaer’s job was under threat as Champions League football just seemed too far out to reach. Since his arrival, United didn’t lose a game in the Premier League that season as they finished as ‘The best of the rest’ after a final day victory against Leicester who had similar ambitions. Since his arrival, United have only lost 8 games and only sit behind Liverpool in the form table.
Bruno vs the most creative players last season [Image Courtesy of Sky Sports]
Bruno operates as a roaming playmaker who likes to come deep to get the ball and get it into dangerous areas. He has a pass and move style that intends to rotate the ball as frequently as possible. His football intelligence is also key here. He looks to almost always make the right decision on what to do. Prior to his arrival, because of the inability of the number 10s to create anything, the bulk of the creative burden fell on the defensive pivot in midfield.
As for Fred who created the most chances in that period, he consistently had to be able to play long balls to find the run of a forward – something that’s not just his style. Now he was able to play it to Bruno who can now play it into the final third. Thus, the duo has formed a good partnership on the field.
3. BRUNO THE CREATOR
Bruno Fernandes is not just a goal-scoring midfielder, he is a person who will create chances and will always look for a good ball into the final third. That often doesn’t pay off and some fans even criticize him for overcomplicating things. But that’s his job – to do what nobody can (with the notable exception of Pogba) on the pitch.
Bruno likes to operate just outside the penalty area where he can look for a ball into a forward or create space to shoot himself. He plays one-two football with great ease and it seems as he has telepathic communication with his forwards. Since his arrival in Manchester, no player has created more goalscoring chances than our Portuguese magnifico. He has 14 assists to his name in the period.
4. BRUNO IS CONSISTENCY
It is extremely hard to find such a consistent player like Bruno Fernandes. There is hardly a game where he doesn’t contribute in a meaningful way – even if he is having an off day which is rare in itself. He has been involved in 36 goals since his arrival 34 games for the Red Devils – an involvement of 1.2 every game – bettered by few in Europe and not by any midfielder.
He always seems to find a way to give that something special and it is why he is undroppable from the squad. A stickler for perfection and the hunger to win is also a huge factor. He always seems to create at least three chances a game.
5. BRUNO EXUDES LEADERSHIP
Bruno Fernandes was a born leader and, in my opinion, should be wearing the armband instead of Harry Maguire at Manchester United. He dictates play, tells the others where to go according to the mental picture in his brain, and best of all leads by example. The players respect him and his hunger to do anything to win is something that reminds a lot of people of a former Man United captain – Roy Keane.
He filled the leadership void in the midfield left by the departure of Ander Herrera (by the way it should have been Pogba who filled that void). He puts a shift in, always looks to outrun the opponent and I think it is fair to say – is an animated character on the pitch (something which the fans respect).
Leading by example. 1-0 down, Bruno Fernandes heads home to level it up v Everton. [Source: The Telegraph]
He steps up when it is needed the most and that instills confidence in the players around him. They want to perform better and share in his desire to win every single match. There have been many reports of him not being satisfied with a draw – where he has shouted that we are Manchester United and a draw is not enough under any circumstance.
He is also extremely selfless. Case in point – in the game against Everton where he was on a hattrick and had a golden chance to score in the final minute but instead played it onto Cavani to score his first goal in United colours so that he would grow in confidence.
The effect that Bruno Fernandes has had on the team is something that not many players can have and if we build the team around him (consolidate a few more positions – especially the defense) United could be back in with a chance of winning the Premier League sooner rather than later.
Varun (@VarunSangwan01) is a writer at large, and one of the global contributors to the Daily Manc team. He is also the creator and chief editor of The United Devils.
All opinions and materials of contributor writers are solely their own and do not necessarily represent positions held by The Daily Manc.