Home » Bruno Fernandes: His impact and influence in a tumultuous year

Bruno Fernandes: His impact and influence in a tumultuous year

by Zoe Hodges

Bruno Fernandes has had a tumultuous year at Manchester United.

In January 2021, United were top of the league, Fernandes was a Ballon d’Or candidate and life was pretty good for the Portuguese international.

He was considered to be one of, if not, the best player in the Premier League with an array of goals and assists for the Reds.

However, he ended the year, sitting out of United’s 3-1 victory over Burnley in the final game of the calendar year, after being booked for whinging in their pathetic 1-1 draw against Newcastle.

As Barney Ronay from The Guardian points out, he remains United’s most effective attacking asset, yet fans have heavily criticised him in recent weeks.

Fernandes has been a completely different player this season to the one we saw in the last, but perhaps that’s because he has to be and the dramatic changes to his role have potentially caused him a lot of frustration.

First came the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. Back in the summer, before there was any buzz around Ronaldo rejoining United, it was clear that for Portugal, in the Euro’s, Fernandes’ effect was stunted compared to how he played for the Reds.

Solskjaer had built the attacking threat around Fernandes, he was involved in every attack, a central figure but now the team and tactics are built around his international team mate.

The arrival of Ralf Rangnick and his preferred 4-2-2-2 formation saw Fernandes have to further adapt his role.

He had always had a drive and ambition that caused him to ‘whinge’ as people put it but it had always been seen as an asset before.

“Here is a man who will not accept mediocrity, who works like a demon and demands the best.” Says Ronay.

He rallied the team, was never satisfied, always demanded more and it was that kind of attitude that fans believed would get the team to the next level and for a time, as they sat top of the league, it truly looked as though it had worked.

With the goals drying up though and the team going on a poor run of form, pundits like Gary Neville began to see his attitude differently.

Ronay believes it is the need for a pantomime villain in what is effectively just a TV show and Bruno is an easy target.

“His “body language” (really? This is a thing now?) can be hilariously terrible…He looks like a comically frustrated high-end pastry chef. He looks like a touching cartoon kangaroo, lost in the big city who just wants a friend,” Ronay rages.

However, despite all that, he remains a key figure in United’s comeback. His grit and determination to do better as a team and in his own play leads him to go home and re-watch games, noting down where there is room for improvement.

“The best signing since Ferguson left the club.” Ronay proclaims and rightly so, “Those Peak Bruno times have been among the few moments of clarity, the closest United have looked to a more evolved entity.”

His experience, coupled with his focus, will surely see him through this tricky spell with the Reds and his attitude, no matter what the fans and pundits say, will surely be admired by his coach and inspire the younger players in the squad.

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