The Portuguese adds some much-required dynamism to the Red Devils’ inconsistent midfield…
The talk of the town when it comes to Manchester United recently is their midfield acquisition from Sporting CP – Bruno Fernandes. And it is a much needed signing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team given their recent travails in midfield.
The Red Devils’ midfield has struggled, partly due to Paul Pogba’s extended absence because of an injury and the creativity has run dry. With huge competition for that fourth spot in the Premier League, Solskjaer’s men might see the UEFA Europa League as a viable alternative to get an entry to the continent’s elite club competition.
Fernandes, the Portuguese Primera Liga’s player of the month for January, may have scored just two goals for his club in four games in January before making the move to Old Trafford but his efficiency and tendency to pick holes in opposition defenses consistently was admired.
Fernandes isn’t the only cure to United’s malaise in midfield, but he’s a step in the right direction. Industrious and tenacious in the centre of the pitch, the Portuguese international has a shot on him which can cause trouble for opposition defences.
The €55 million man has 14 goals and 10 assists to his name this season alone for his former club. His decision making in the final third is often clear, though a high voltage midfielder like himself tends to lose the ball more often than he may like.
In comparison, United’s current crop of midfielders have managed a total of just six goals and nine assists combined.
United sit sixth in the Premier League’s “big chances created” table, while they sit third in the “big chances missed” one. Their top four rivals sit above them and with their season heading for a tough run-in, the club will look to move up these tables with the injection of Bruno’s attributes.
It’s also important to remember here that United sit a paltry eighth in the through balls count as well. This is where the Maia-born midfielder will make a difference.
Bruno’s performances so far for United have highlighted his vision, picking up darting runs of strikers. Odion Ighalo and Anthony Martial will have a fresh whiff of blood, provided they satiate their teammate’s attacking appetite in the final third.
In his opening bow versus Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s newest go-to man made an instant mark. With over 40 final third passes, five shots on goal (three on target) and give tackles, he really showed the 70,000-odd Mancunian faithful what they could expect from him during his tenure.
Questions still remain of his ideal position – a virtuous number 10 or a dogged box-to-box midfielder. However that’s a wonderful conundrum to be in considering Britain’s most successful club’s dire predicament.
United will count on their latest number 18 to give them a huge push as they look to negotiate a tough Europa League run in. First up is Club Brugge.