It’s always a bad idea to get carried away in modern football and make unwise proclamations based on scant early evidence, but we’re calling it now: Bruno Fernandes is the saviour of Manchester United.
Well, sort of. He’s been very good at least, and the man that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described as a cross between two United midfielders of the past was the driving force behind their 3-0 win over Watford on Sunday.
“Juan Sebastian Scholes ran the show,” said Matt Davies-Adams on Monday’s early edition of the Totally Football Show. “He won a penalty then put it in, did a Jorginho without the little hop skip and jump, and then in the second-half he was absolutely fabulous, a really eye-catching display from him.”
While Solskjaer put forward this melding of English and Argentinean midfield silk as a way of describing Fernandes, Daniel Storey had a more contemporary comparison to make.
“I don’t think he reminds me of Scholes or Veron [even] a little bit. He looks like an in-form version of Paul Pogba, in that he protects the ball, drives forward, dictates the tempo in midfield.”
Matt Davies-Adams concurred: “He has that swagger about him that Pogba does on his best day in that he wants to be the centre of attention and run the game, and he definitely did in this game.”
So has Bruno Fernandes fixed Manchester United?
“No he hasn’t,” party-pooped Matt, “but he’s made a really big difference to them, definitely. There are still weaknesses in pretty much every area of the team you can name, but as much as it is about Fernandes the player, you get the feeling it was about getting someone new in January, whereas most of the teams around them didn’t.
“It was getting someone in who could immediately affect the game – his numbers for Sporting this season were pretty incredible so it was always likely he would hit the ground running. He wasn’t ridiculous money either by modern standards.
“More broadly, it does make you think that Manchester United, as derided as they have been, their transfer business over the last year-18 months has actually been pretty good on the whole.
“Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, even Daniel James who’s faded a little bit but you think he’ll be a good player for the future.”
This is all very well and good now, but will this early form continue, Daniel Storey?
“The question I suppose is whether, as has happened for the last half decade, Manchester United manage drag those signings down to their level, rather than the signings continuing the form of the first weeks and dragging the club forwards.
“Fernandes looks like he’s got that personality – I think we probably would’ve said the same about Pogba, though there are complicating factors in that one.
“He’s a player for ‘the now’ – he’s not 21, he’s 25 and he’s ready to do it from minute one at the club. There’s no reason why they can’t get in the top five with him.”
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