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Sorry Van de Beek, Bruno Fernandes’ shoes are too big to fill

Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek
Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek
Modified 10 Feb 2021

Manchester United have advanced to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup after recording a narrow 1-0 win against West Ham United on Tuesday.

The Red Devils needed extra time to defeat David Moyes’ side, with Scott McTominay coming off the bench to grab the all-important winner. This wasn’t a vintage performance from the Manchester giants, but at least they got the job done.

Having twice allowed a lead to slip during last Sunday’s Premier League match against Everton, a win in the FA Cup is exactly the kind of response that any manager would want.

Yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been left in a quandary over the quality of the players on his bench. It is fair to say that the players who were given starts against the Hammers failed to impress during Tuesday’s encounter.

Yet another frustrating outing for Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles, Dean Henderson and Nemanja Matic all started for Manchester United as Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Edinson Cavani and David de Gea were given rest.

Among the players who were handed starts, though, Van de Beek had the most eyeballs. The Dutch midfielder has been sparingly used since moving from Ajax to Old Trafford last summer.

He’s been reduced to a peripheral figure and only plays in games where Solskjaer wants to rotate his squad to give rest to his regular stars.

While many have questioned why Van de Beek hasn’t played enough, he hasn’t been too impressive when given the chance as well.


Against West Ham in the FA Cup, he was decent but didn’t do enough to command a regular place in the starting line-up. He rarely touched the ball in the opposition box and didn’t exert himself as Manchester United’s main creative force in the game.

Bruno Fernandes’ shoes too big to fill

The former Ajax midfielder was tasked with playing as a number 10, a role which Bruno Fernandes has made his own since joining the Red Devils. But it appears as though the Portuguese’s shoes are too big to fill.

Bruno Fernandes is the type of player who takes risks with his passes and is always thinking of threading a through ball. That is the exact opposite of who Van de Beek is.

The Dutchman prefers to make short passes and takes low risks when it comes to finding his teammates. For a modern number 10, one must be more daring than that.


Perhaps Van de Beek will be better off playing as a No. 8, where he wouldn’t be burdened with creating chances for the team’s strikers.

However, Solskjaer defended the midfielder following the West Ham game, saying:

“I thought, first half, we and Donny, we played really well. We created spaces for one or two and he played his part and did his job really well."
"He was neat and tidy and had half a chance when Alex [Telles] pulled the ball back to him. In the second half, the whole team fell off a little bit and we wanted to make a few changes,” the Norwegian added, as quoted by Goal.

Van de Beek is definitely desperate to play more, but his performances currently do not merit a place in the starting XI.

He’s also competing for a place with Bruno Fernandes, whose standards are off the roof and whose shoes many players will struggle to fill.

Published 10 Feb 2021, 13:48 IST
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