In what must be one of the strangest pieces of football journalism seen in some time, former Millwall and Chelsea forward Tony Cascarino has declared Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan a better player than Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes.
Writing in The Times, the former Republic of Ireland international gave the two players marks out of 10 in the following areas:
Creativity – Gundogan 9, Fernandes 9.5
Defending – Gundogan 8, Fernandes 6.5
Finishing – Gundogan 8.5, Fernandes 9
Mentality – Gundogan 9, Fernandes 8
Team Play – Gundogan 9, Fernandes 8
Pace – Gundogan 8, Fernandes 7.5
Total – Gundogan 51.5, Fernandes 48.5
Gundogan is an excellent player, of course, but some of these ratings are laughable.
First, rating Bruno just 0.5 points ahead of Gundogan for creativity cannot be right. Cascarino justifies this by saying ‘Fernandes tends to create a little more than Gündogan because he makes more high-risk passes, which offer high reward; Gündogan is part of a City team obsessed with retaining possession.
‘The United player is also better placed to deliver assists because he operates in the No 10 position, whereas the German sometimes plays deeper.’
OK, Tony, but in the next category you give Gundogan a whopping 1.5 points more for defending than Bruno. Does he not do more defending because of the very reasons you upped his creativity mark, above? Bruno plays exclusively in the number 10 position and yet is regularly seen helping out his team defensively. Sometimes he is even the last man. There is no way on earth that he should be down on 6.5 for this one.
The scores for finishing are the closest to being fair, so we will let that pass despite the vast difference in goals scored between the two. But then we come to mentality, where Cascarino ranks Gundogan a point ahead of Bruno, saying the City man ‘never gets flustered, whatever the situation. He doesn’t overreact. Fernandes … can get really frustrated. He can antagonise his team-mates by complaining.’ Any Manchester United fan will tell you that Bruno Fernandes’ mentality is one of the strongest they have ever seen at the club. Determined, inspiring, leadership. Will to win at all costs. Hunger. Passion. If ever there was a 10/10 to be had, Bruno would get it for mentality.
And how does Gundogan score a point more than Fernandes for team play? ‘Gündogan is always involved in the game, slotting perfectly into the well-drilled City machine and rarely gives the ball away. Fernandes, on the other hand, is much more of an individual, a game-changer who offers something that his colleagues do not,’ says Cascarino. But you can be both. Fernandes is never greedy and is a fantastic team player. And what’s more, if Cascarino stands by this sentence, why only give Bruno 0.5 points more than Gundogan for creativity? You can’t have it both ways.
Even Cascarino’s pace ranking seems a little off. He puts the German 0.5 points ahead of the Portuguese, yet FIFA 21 has Bruno 6 points ahead of his rival on 77 vs 71, which seems about right.
So, with all that said, here are our ‘corrected’ scores for the two midfielders:
Creativity – Gundogan 8.5, Fernandes 9.5
Defending – Gundogan 8, Fernandes 8
Finishing – Gundogan 8.5, Fernandes 9
Mentality – Gundogan 8, Fernandes 9.5
Team Play – Gundogan 8.5, Fernandes 9
Pace – Gundogan 7, Fernandes 7.5
Total – Gundogan 48.5, Fernandes 52.5
It should also be noted that none of this even begins to compare (or perhaps, avoids comparing) basic statistics such as goals and assists. Bruno has 35 goal involvements (22 goals, 13 assists) to his name this season, Gundogan has 16 (13 goals and 3 assists). Gundogan is playing for a team 14 points clear of that of Fernandes in the Premier League. Enough said?