Bruno is 'Numero Uno' among the Rampant Reds
One signing has made all the difference
“Best player on the pitch by a long way”, were the words used to describe Bruno Fernandes against Brighton & Hove Albion by commentator Gary Neville. A convincing 3-0 away victory for the Red Devils put them back into fifth-place on the Premier League table. The orchestrator of Manchester United’s victory was unquestionably their talismanic Portuguese attacking midfielder, Bruno Fernandes, who scored two goals, ran the most kilometers before being subbed off and provided decisive passes into the opposition’s box throughout the encounter.
Fernandes has needed no time to settle at Manchester United and has taken charge of a small resurrection since joining from Sporting Clube de Portugal on the 29th of January 2020. Unthinkable when one rewinds the clock to the end of January, when Manchester United fans were questioning their manager’s competence after a 2-0 home loss to Burnley. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his charges had lost to Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Burnley in just over three weeks and the mood surrounding the club was foul.
Iconic former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand couldn’t hide his disappointment on BT Sport after the Burnley defeat at Old Trafford. “You can see here these fans, they’re not giving it time. They’re singing songs, they’re shouting, they’re leaving early. 84th minute, 85th minute I’m seeing people get up and go, it’s unheard of at this stadium. People need to sit and watch this, get a video tape and look at the stands in the 85th minute onwards and see people leaving. With the distain on their faces. This is an embarrassment."
Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 there had been numerous claims by former Manchester United players of a similar nature. There seemed to be no coherent plan to move forward at Manchester United regarding their recruitment system. However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been patiently assembling a squad that has a healthy mixture of young talent as well as experience. The biggest piece of the puzzle, regarding their recent success, has been the incorporation of the Portuguese attacking midfielder.
While Manchester United have gone undefeated in their last fifteen matches in all competitions, Fernandes has been involved in thirteen. In those thirteen matches Manchester United have scored 31 goals and impressively Fernandes has played a part in close to one third of them (6 goals and 4 assists in all competitions). His influence going forward has been paramount but it is what has happened behind him that has been the major turning point within the club. In the eight Premier League matches that Fernandes has been part of the Manchester United setup, the club have kept six clean sheets, conceding only two goals. In their previous 24 matches in this season’s Premier League they had conceded 29 goals and managed to keep only four clean sheets. A turnaround that not many could have foreseen prior to his arrival at Manchester United.
ESPN analyst Shaka Hislop heaped praise upon the 25-year-old Portuguese international. “I think Bruno Fernandes has changed Manchester United from an average team to a good team.” Some might even argue that Manchester United are becoming a great side. Since Fernandes made his debut at Old Trafford, not even the newly crowned champions Liverpool have been able to collect more league points (16 in seven Premier League games) than the Red Devils have (18 points in eight league matches). Their main competitors for the top four spots, Chelsea and Leicester City, have collected 14 and 5 points in their last seven league games respectively.
With 18 year-old Mason Greenwood and 22 year-old Marcus Rashford playing on either side of the instrumental Fernandes the future of Manchester United is looking bright. Only time will tell just how good this side will get. The coming weeks shouldn’t halt their march to the top four as they face AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Southampton, Crystal Palace, West Ham United and Leicester City. A position in the top four will be an incredible achievement given where they were before Bruno became the ‘Numero uno’ at Manchester United.