Bruno Fernandes demonstrated how essential he is for this Manchester United side in the Red Devils’ 2-2 draw with Leicester on Boxing Day.
On January 30, 2021, it will be a year to the day for United to part ways with a £ 47million lead to bring in the Sporting CP midfielder, and it’s hard to imagine how the club have coped. without him.
In recent history, they haven’t.
Prior to joining, United were fifth in the Premier League, six points behind the top four and Leicester 14 points in third.
The Red Devils would end the season third, four points ahead of the Foxes as they capitalized on a Fernandes-inspired fortunes recovery in the second half of the campaign, while Brendan Rodgers’ side faded .
Rodgers’ side didn’t fade on Boxing Day – if anything, they were slightly the best team and played the best football. However, United comfortably created clearer opportunities, with Fernandes at the heart of the multitude of chances his side have carved out for themselves.
The absolute vitality of Fernandes’ presence in the United squad was underlined midweek when he was named in the starting XI of United’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Everton, despite the hectic schedule of the Christmas matches on the horizon. He was one of three players to start at Goodison who were also on the pitch from the start against Leicester – alongside center defensive couple Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly.
The midfielder stretched Leicester’s back line in two minutes, choosing an unmarked Marcus Rashford with a fabulous, delicate and floating cross. However, the United striker could not help but let the glorious luck pass.
Fernandes had his usual contribution to goal a few minutes later. He drifted inside to try to get a pass from Dan James, but the Welshman’s ball was too touched. Fernandes stretched and put the ball in the path of Rashford, who this time made no mistake and gave United the advantage.
The Portugal international then appeared with another appearance on goal – unfortunately on the wrong side – as he carelessly ceded possession to Wilfred Ndidi, and Harvey Barnes emphatically punished his negligence.
But Fernandes would correct his mistake in the second half as the goal-giver became the scorer. Edinson Cavani drifted to Fernandes’ normal number 10 position, allowing the attacking midfielder to push and take up the space left empty by the Uruguayan. Cavani fed Fernandes with a precise ball and the midfielder ran over it with all the attacking us from a seasoned number nine, before instinctively coming home.
It was Fernandes’ 18th Premier League goal for the club and brought their top-flight number of goals to 31. Since joining, United have scored 60 Premier League goals. Fernandes participated in more than 50% of them.
Sometimes stats can’t do justice to a player’s influence. This one does a very good job; Simply put, Fernandes is responsible for most of the good things Manchester United do in the final third. They pose a much more powerful, exciting, and dangerous attack threat when he’s on the ground.
This is why he played 180 minutes in the span of four days, although United have both Wolves and Aston Villa visits to sneak in over the next week.
How have United coped without him before? Not particularly good. How would they do now without him? They wouldn’t.