The arrival of Bruno Fernandes has certainly lifted the mood at Manchester United right now. The Red Devils have required a midfielder for quite some time now, and that need has been intensified by injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay this season. And if his debut at Old Trafford against Wolverhampton Wanderers was any indication, Fernandes could well turn out to be a pivotal figure for Solskjaer in the coming months.
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The Portuguese had an impressive first game in the colors of United, and hardly showed any signs of nerves on the pitch. He started off in the No. 10 position but was allotted a lot of freedom to play his natural game. The Portuguese ended the game as a part of a double pivot in the midfield but looked equally at ease in an unconventional role.
However, the biggest observation from the game was that Manchester United already looked a better side with Fernandes pulling the strings from the midfield. It is now up to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to ensure that the team complements the midfielder and enables him to assert his influence on each game. It is already clear that the Portuguese will have a huge role to play for the Norwegian from now until the end of the season, and here are 3 ways how Fernandes will improve United.
#3 Work ethic
A normal creative midfielder can be forgiven for being slack when his team loses the ball, given that his primary responsibility is hurting the opposition with the ball at his feet. While the player will be expected to contribute as a team, there will be others in the side who will be handed the responsibility to shoulder the bulk of the defensive responsibilities. However, the one striking characteristic of Fernandes that makes him different from your normal creative midfielders is his desire to win back the ball and work in a defensive shape.
While his defensive discipline might not be something to write about – he picked up a yellow in his debut for a technical foul – the Portuguese remains fully committed to winning back possession for his team. Fernandes is one of the first players to react when his team loses the ball and he uses his creative instincts to anticipate the opposition’s next move. He is full of energy and running, as was evident in the game against Wolves, where he covered an incredible 11.3 kilometers!
People in the stands at Old Trafford on the first weekend of February could be forgiven for assuming that Fernandes had been playing in the United team for a couple of seasons, such was his work ethics on the pitch. The Portuguese was heavily involved in the game, managing 110 touches on the ball, the second-highest in the game after Aaron Wan-Bissaka and even registered the highest tackles among the United midfielders. He also made the most clearances in the United team and it was a glimpse of the qualities Fernandes will bring to the team. His exemplary work ethics will certainly inspire a hunger for battle in Manchester United.