Andy Cole has launched a staunch defence of Bruno Fernandes after Jamie Carragher’s criticism of the Manchester United midfielder.
The former Liverpool defender revealed United’s captain was a “great talent” but not a “great player.” He praises Fernandes’ ability, but believes there is “something missing” from the 28-year-old’s game, which relegates Fernandes outside the league’s best players.
Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, Carragher compared the United midfielder to a former teammate to demonstrate his point.
“I always used to describe [Paul] Pogba a bit like this – I think there’s a difference between a great talent and a great player. Pogba was a great talent, but I didn’t think he was a great player and the same with Bruno Fernandes,” Carragher contended.
The former player-turned-pundit continued: “No doubt the talent is there but there’s just something [missing] and the great players, it’s in their head of where they need to be whether it’s defensively or to receive the ball – like [Kevin] De Bruyne.”
Speaking exclusively to Betfred, Cole – one of the best strikers to have set foot at Old Trafford – indicated this perception to be flawed. Instead, he believes it’s the team Fernandes finds himself in which dictates the judgement over his quality, rather than himself.
United have, for large parts of Fernandes’ time in Manchester, been a poor team. Or, when playing well, they have still been a limited team. They have rarely ever dominated games the way Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal or Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool do, let alone anywhere near the way Pep Guardiola and De Bruyne’s City team do.
Cole believes if Fernandes was part of a team playing this well every week, there would be very different conclusions about him. “Put it this way, if Bruno was in a team that was winning week in, week out, then would the perception of him not being a great player change? 100% it would.”
The former striker believes judgements over players’ quality simply boil “down to perception.” There is no set template or metric to form it, just the individual’s opinion. In fact, a statistical analysis of the different metrics of Fernandes’ game reflects very favourably on the Portuguese international.
He has consistently topped the charts for chances created, despite the forward he’s feeding rarely capitalising upon this creativity. He is always one of the most willing runners on whatever pitch he’s on, regularly near the top for distance covered.
He’s even one of the least injured players in the whole of European football – a much-valued attribute at Old Trafford this season, in particular.
If Fernandes was dropped into Arsenal’s starting eleven, in place of Kai Havertz, he would run riot. If he replaced Curtis Jones at Liverpool, it would be a similar story.
And while he may not reach the heights De Bruyne does at City, he would get close enough to be considered a ‘great player’ by Jamie Carragher. Not that Jamie came close to that himself on the pitch.