Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has admitted that he uses ‘dead zones’, which he likes to call ‘referee zones’ to create space for both himself and his teammates on the pitch.
Speaking exclusively to The Athletic’s Adam Crafton, Fernandes outlined that as a playmaker tasked with creating chances and finding scoring opportunities for others, the primary challenge is always to find space.
He told Crafton. “It is about finding the non-occupied areas, or sometimes the dead zones where nobody can see you or mark you.”
“Or, if they do mark you, they will create more space in the middle of the pitch for other people.”
On being quizzed about how he achieves this so excellently, Fernandes said that he uses referees – an individual that the opposition does not mark and does not take notice of during games, to find little pockets of space where he can end up hurting the opposition.
As per the 28-year-old, working under the instructions of his coaches, either him as the no. 10, a winger or a striker picks up positions based on the referee’s position.
The United no. 8 pointed out that in matches where Mike Dean is the referee, it becomes difficult for the Portuguese to find space as the match official tends to run centrally to get a better view of match proceedings.
There are numerous instances, pointed out by Crafton, in which Fernandes seemed to use this clever tactic.
In the Red Devils’ triumphant win against bitter rivals Arsenal, the Portuguese international seemed to follow Paul Tierney’s movements to evade his markers in the middle of the park.
Crafton reports on this unusual tactic and how it paid off against the Gunners “for United’s first two goals of the 3-1 win, he seems to receive possession in areas otherwise occupied only by the referee.”
Fernandes, who was especially impressive against the North London rivals, provided a brilliant assist for Marcus Rashford first and United’s second of the game from such a position.
United supporters will be hoping that the tactic continues to pay off. It has certainly helped the player look more of himself in recent weeks after a disastrous last season.