Manchester United legend Roy Keane defender the role of Bruno Fernandes in the team, amidst suggestions that the freedom the midfielder has been given by Erik ten Hag is hindering the side’s performances.
The United playmaker started the season well but seems to have fallen out of form in recent games.
Fernandes who has six goals and five assists in 28 games this term, has not registered a goal contribution in the Premier League since the assist against Everton at the end of November.
Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, Gary Neville suggested that Fernandes may benefit from being restricted to sticking to just one position rather than being given the licence to freely roam the pitch.
Keane argued the opposite and suggested that the Portuguese midfielder is being treated too harshly and if United were performing better as a team, no one would criticise the freedom Fernandes has been given by Erik ten Hag.
Neville said, “Any team that is anything at all, you see repeated pass patterns and combinations. I think about Bruno Fernandes, and I watched him on Sunday, he’s obviously the best player in terms of talent – but he’s everywhere. He must be being told to go and do what he wants.”
“I don’t think Bruno Fernandes is that type of guy. If, for Pep Guardiola, a player plays out of position for a minute or two, he’s on the sideline saying: ‘Get back into your position’, and I think Ten Hag is giving him the freedom to go everywhere, and actually that means you can never have a combination or a pattern – when you’ve got your main midfield player everywhere on the pitch.”
“It’s almost like 20 years ago, where your number 10 was given licence to play. That’s gone now, you have to fit within a combination and pattern system and attacking shape, and that’s the bit that I think Bruno is told he must be able to go everywhere.”
The ex-defender insisted that he has never seen Ten Hag approach Fernandes during games to instruct the skipper to stick to his area of the pitch.
However, according to Keane, Fernandes’ freedom is not an issue as he does the same thing at international level with the Selecao to great effect.
The Irishman mentioned, “There is a player out there and if he’s doing all that stuff and producing magic, you almost forgive him but if you’re in a struggling team and you’re doing all that stuff, that’s where it stands out and you go: ‘You’re killing us, you’re costing us.’ I reckon if you look back at his career, he’s done it in every team.”
Keane further stated that if the Red Devils were winning more matches, Fernandes would get away with his style of play.