The best Manchester United rookie since the end of the Alex Ferguson era? The amazing Bruno Fernandes! By buying the Portuguese midfielder this winter, the Red Devils have changed a season badly born but which could well lead them to the Champions League.
Arrived in a climate of discouragement and cold rage around the club, Fernandes (25 years), best player in the championship of Portugal the last two seasons and snatched for 57 million euros from Sporting on January 30, quickly put in his pocket the club, the public and observers.
To the point of being an indisputable holder before the reception of Bournemouth (16:00) Saturday for the 33rd day of Premier League.
However, in late January, the cloth burned with the supporters after two defeats in the league against Liverpool (2-0) and especially Burnley (2-0), at home. For many, this reinforcement looked like last-ditch recruiting.
The evils of the Red Devils were fairly easily identifiable, especially offensively: lack of binding in the transition phases, lack of creativity and percussion in the last 30 meters. Factors particularly penalizing against more modest adversaries.
– “Portuguese + magnifico +” –
It is hard to imagine that a single man could, in a few weeks, not to say days, resolve such shortcomings in a jiffy. And yet, Bruno Fernandes changed everything.
Five months later – including three forced breaks due to the Covid-19 pandemic -, the spans of Old Trafford sang again, notably their last hit: “Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, he is Sporting like Cristiano ( Ronaldo), he leaves on the left, he leaves on the right, he ridicules the defenses, it is our Portuguese + magnifico + “.
Its impact was immediately visible: of the nine games between his arrival and the interruption of the championship, Manchester won six and made three draws, scoring 22 goals and conceding only 2.
With two goals and three assists, the Portuguese international (19 caps) was the most decisive player in the Premier League during this period, earning the title of “player of February” for his first month in England.
We could have feared that three months of interruption of competitions would break this good momentum. The question of his agreement with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, the two Tauliers of the Red Devils which he had almost forgotten the absence on injury this winter, was also a major unknown before the resumption.
– “Winner mentality” –
But with the restart of the Premier League, the Mancunians resumed their march forward with three wins and a draw. And Pogba has already offered his first assist to his new partner, in the last match, against Brighton (3-0).
Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, also very prominent since the recovery, also benefited from the passes and inspirations from the Portuguese.
“I have more than one player capable of rocking the match now. We have some very high level players and since Bruno arrived he has been fantastic,” said coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“He brought this winning mentality with him, to say that 99% is not enough, you have to be 100%. It is a pleasure to see them express themselves (on the ground) like that” , he added.
Qualified for the semi-finals of the English Cup, practically guaranteed to play the quarters in the Europa League and fifth in the league, just two points from the qualifying places for the C1, Bruno Fernandes has, in any case, made the end of the season from United as exciting as its debut was painstaking and gloomy.
Not bad for a player who had not won in Italy, Udinese and Sampdoria! England has now come to know him.