Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes has dismissed claims that he cannot play with his Portugal teammate and captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic’s Adam Crafton, Fernandes navigated the thorny issue by defending Ronaldo and hinting that the forward actually improves him.
Fernandes was quizzed on why his stats were infinitely better and more impressive before Ronaldo’s arrival and took a nosedive upon his arrival at Old Trafford.
Fernandes registered a mouth-watering 29 goals and 19 assists in 53 appearances for the Red Devils before Ronaldo’s sensational return to the Theatre of Dreams from Juventus.
Since then, on the 40 occasions on which he has featured in a United shirt, he has had eight goals and seven assists to his name. A massive dropoff!
On this, the player replied, “Most of my assists last season were for him, so I don’t think (it is fair). I just had a poor season in terms of my own numbers. I don’t think it is about Cristiano or myself.”
The 28-year-old also added that he himself was to blame for not taking penalties, a burden that was then placed on Ronaldo’s shoulders last season. Fernandes ended up missing twice from the spot, which cost United against Aston Villa and Arsenal.
Fernandes pointed out that beyond United, he has also played with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner for the national team where their partnership has blossomed.
He told Crafton, “To play with Cristiano as a No 10 is actually really good because players respect Cristiano so much that it creates more space, as the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring.”
“They want to mark him and (they) create an overload where he is to mark him. For example, when I scored two goals against North Macedonia (in March’s play-off that secured World Cup qualification for Portugal), one was from his assist and the other was from his run which created the space behind him for me to score.”
The former Sporting Lisbon star, in a show of leadership, insisted that it was his responsibility to give Ronaldo the ball and find him in the right spaces.
Supporters will be hoping that the Portuguese duo can this season replicate their burgeoning national team alliance at club level.