View Single Post
Old 11-03-2020, 06:13 PM   #7889
Supremacy Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 8,132
Fiery, bossy, and with a FEROCIOUS desire to win… Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew he was getting a born winner in Bruno Fernandes, but his £68m man could have the same impact on Manchester United as Eric Cantona

It was a bold statement, but when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed that Bruno Fernandes has energised 'the whole club' he was not getting carried away by the giddy high of winning a Manchester derby.

Fernandes has lifted Manchester United. In fact, it's hard to think of another player whose ability and character have had such a sudden impact at Old Trafford. Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016 would be a contender, but players of this ilk are few and far between.

After eight games for United, it seems ridiculous to be drawing comparisons between Fernandes and Wayne Rooney or even Eric Cantona as Paul Scholes – another player likened to the Portugal star – has done.

But that is the level of excitement and expectation generated by Fernandes among supporters who have been starved of success and a genuine showman for so long.

They can see what the 25-year-old brings to this team and it's not just the kind of off-the-cuff chip that set up Anthony Martial for United's opening goal in the Manchester derby on Sunday.

They see the leadership, the drive, the relentless desire to win. Everything that United were told they would be getting from those who knew Fernandes in Portugal and Italy.

At Novaro, they recall a teenager who would sulk for two hours if he lost at anything. At Udinese, his table tennis rivalry with Roberto Pererya was described as 'spectacular'. At Sporting Lisbon, he became the team leader and talisman, displaying the same qualities that could earn him hero status at United.

When he was sent off on his return to boyhood club Boavista in September, a furious Fernandes was caught on CCTV angrily kicking out at a door as he returned to the Sporting dressing-room. 'F**k you,' he told a security guard who challenged him. 'I'll pay for the f*****g door – go f**k yourself!'.

This is the kind of character that United have signed. A seriously bad loser who won't accept anything but the best from himself and his team-mates. A young man who has battled his way up from a poor childhood in the northern Portuguese city of Maia and will not back down from a fight – as Pep Guardiola discovered during a tetchy touchline exchange at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Fernandes set the tone from the moment he arrived in Manchester to sign for United in January for a fee that could rise to £68million.

After undergoing a medical and filming a video to announce his signing to the world on Thursday, January 30, the player could have been forgiven for wanting to get back to his wife Ana and their daughter Matilde who was celebrating her third birthday. Instead, he requested to get out on the pitch at Carrington and train with a fitness coach.

Fernandes worked with his team-mates for the first time on the Friday and made his debut in a goalless draw against Wolves on the Saturday, and it was immediately clear what he would bring to the team. More shots and passes than any of his team-mates, but also the drive to demand more from players he had only met a day earlier.

'He was like a boss on the pitch,' says Miguel Pedro, academy co-ordinator at Fernandes old club ADR Pasteleira. 'After one training session there, he was telling Aaron Wan-Bissaka what to do. Wan-Bissaka was probably thinking 'who is this guy talking to me?' but Bruno was doing that at 15 years old.'

On Sunday, Fernandes wasn't afraid to vent his displeasure at Dan James when the United winger went for goal instead of looking up to spot United's new No 18 steaming into City's penalty box expecting a pass.

This, remember, is a man who expressed little regret when a WhatsApp audio clip of him slamming his team-mates at Sporting was leaked last season. Shy he most certainly is not.

But Fernandes has quickly earned the respect of Solskjaer and his team-mates at United, a club that has accepted mediocrity for too long now. They know that a player who gets home from a match and immediately watches it over to analyse his performance applies the same high standards to himself as others.

He has settled in quickly, first of all with Portuguese speaking players like Diogo Dalot – who drives him into training each morning, sometimes bringing a packed lunch for his passenger – Andreas Pereira and Fred.

Fernandes has also grown close to the Spanish-speaking contingent as well, having chosen a Spanish song for his initiation during United's warm-weather training camp in Marbella last month, and could be seen laughing and joking with Martial in the dugout after they were substituted on Sunday.

By then the game was won. Guardiola's team of Premier League champions had been vanquished and Fernandes had outshone his Portuguese compatriot Bernardo Silva.

As United celebrated at a raucous Old Trafford and Solskjaer blew kisses towards the directors' box, it was impossible to escape the feeling that a significant corner has been turned – and that Bruno Fernandes is the catalyst.
jahtl62 is offline