Another game, another goal and two more assists. It will take Bournemouth much more than sorry to stop Bruno Fernandes’ remarkable impact on the Premier League.
Still, it was in United’s previous game, at Amex Stadium, where a snapshot helped explain his growing status around Manchester United.
Only after the match was without a doubt won, Fernandes got a rest and took a few rows away from the sidelines. He had given Brighton a happy dance and scored twice.
Bruno Fernandes celebrates his last show of brilliance since joining Manchester United
Fernandes’ superb free kick put the seal on United’s demolition of Bournemouth
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showed his joy with the man who transformed his team
The television cameras turned to Fernandes sat in the grandstand, clapping and nudging his teammates, open-mouthed by an awesome David de Gea rescue. Sky’s commentary team thought that at least one supporter was allowed to enter the game behind closed doors and that he happened to be wearing full gear.
Fernandes has immersed himself in everything United since his arrival in January. That should not be unusual with new additions to any club, but it is and is unfortunately worth mentioning. He feels lucky to have been given this opportunity and plans to grab it with both hands, so it’s not surprising that he may look like an extension of the club’s fan base.
Fernandes is celebrating after scoring the first of two against Brighton last Tuesday
Fernandes has had a remarkable start to life at United and has already scored six times
IMPACT OF BRUNO FERNANDES ON PREMIER LEAGUE AT UNITED
Matches played: 9
Goals: 6, Assists: 5
Total number of shots: 33
Opportunities created: 20
Pass successful: 76%
A cheerleader, as well as a leader, the start of the 25-year-old’s life in Old Trafford was revealing. The unbeaten run of 16 games that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has achieved since that tough night against Burnley six months ago is of course not only due to the winter captain, but he can get a lot of praise.
The South Coast double, then the successor to Bounemouth, means that since his debut on February 1, Fernandes has been directly involved in 11 goals in all competitions – more than anyone in the top flight at the time. These songs are comparable to the starts made by Robin van Persie in 2012 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the first season of Jose Mourinho.
Like Van Persie – who stated he “listened to the little boy in me” when he signed for United from Arsenal at United – Fernandes has the privilege of being here in the northwest. Like Ibrahimovic, whose list of public statements is too long to list, Fernandes carries that confidence to carry others around, though not so openly. Marrying these two qualities makes him a formidable prospect.
Fernandes’ goal engagement has been higher than any other Premier League player since his arrival
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) and Robin van Persie (right) are others with flying starts at United
United have already witnessed the competitive success that distinguishes the international from Portugal as someone with that little bit extra. After the 1-1 draw at Everton in which he scored the tying goal, Fernandes was stunned at how satisfied the dressing was for securing a draw and told them.
In training, he would be extremely demanding of the people around him. He is an uplifting character, the kind United was so used to under Sir Alex Ferguson but has not been around since.
Fernandes has a quality that United has been missing for a while: a willingness to play on the edge. Too much for him – among everything from Solskjaer, Mourinho and Louis van Gaal – would have been perfectly capable of doing the simple things competently enough without really affecting the games.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy with the impact his Portuguese midfielder has made
When fans were admitted to Old Trafford, Fernandes looked at his ears after a goal vs Bruges
When Solskjaer talks about ‘X-Factor’, it’s that ingenuity that United has missed for far too long. His major passes are in more than two games, just above Paul Pogba.
United scouts had raised concerns about the number of times Fernandes lost possession when the club left him at Sporting Lisbon last summer. However, that was what Solskjaer felt United needed – a risk taker, someone who could break through lines of defense in one action.
No one with more than one start for the club this season has given the ball away more than Fernandes, whose completion rate is 76 in the Premier League and a meager 71 in Europe.
He and Solskjaer would of course like to see those numbers higher, but United are currently taking more chances in the last third and many of them open teams. In too many matches against stubborn opposition before his arrival, United didn’t even bother buying a lottery ticket.
Fernandes has impressed in almost every game he has played in the Manchester United colors
His collaboration with Paul Pogba (left) has been discussed, but seems to be already blooming
So in the end, they deprived Pogba of the burden of the risk, which should be freed if the two work together in the long run. For all the talk about whether that partnership will work, it’s worth remembering that good players can usually play together. There will be give and take, Pogba is probably a little deeper and more dependent on runs in the box, but it is in the team’s favor.
“Paul is a great player, but I don’t want to talk too much about me and him,” said Fernandes. “We are a team and this was a team effort. Speaking of me and Paul is not fair to the rest of the boys, I prefer to talk about everyone. ‘
Praiseworthy sentiments of course, but what Fernandes missed is that the creative two who work well together – have more freedom and dominate fewer opponents – serve to highlight the good work of others on the side.
They don’t get credit if the team doesn’t win and the team has a better chance of winning with Fernandes in it.
Aston Villa, which hosts United on Thursday night, is very similar to relegation feeder, and will likely emphasize that point again.