Despite the suspension of all soccer due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Portuguese playmaker Fernandes has continued to show himself the ideal signing.
One word continues cropping up each time anyone talks about Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes: leader.
The Portugal superstar has had an instantaneous influence at Old Trafford, making an impression on his team-mates, manager, staff and former players – although not just with his on-the-field performances.
Yes, the 25-year-old has impressed on the pitch. He has brought creativity and a spark to the midfield that had been missing and created more chances, played more key passes in key areas, taken more shots and secured extra assists than any of this team-mates since arriving in January, however it is the smaller details that have made him stand out even more.
“He’s a leader for us,” Luke Shaw revealed at some stage in his appearance in a FIFA tournament in early April, and whilst Fernandes had only shared a dressing room with his new club-mates for six weeks before play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear he had an instantaneous impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dressing room.
That can be illustrated by what took place just over 24 hours after Fernandes had gone through a medical ahead of signing his United contract.
The playmaker asked his new manager if he could train straight away. Though the rest of the squad were not present at United’s Carrington training base, Fernandes was eager to hit the floor running, and that passionate desire to galvanize was replicated in his preliminary training session the subsequent day.
Staff at Carrington described a buzz around the midfielder just from that one training session. An instantaneous impact.
However, it was not simply his playing ability that attracted Solskjaer to the former Sporting C.P. star. “I saw what he can do on the pitch however also his leadership qualities,” Solskjaer stated upon Fernandes’ arrival, and it has not taken long for those features to shine through.
From his debut in opposition to Wolves, that came just forty-eight hours after he was confirmed as a United player, the midfielder was seen advising and instructing his new team-mates, many of whom he had only met for the first time the previous day. That self-assurance left many in the United dressing room feeling assured as the 19-time Portugal international commenced to help those around him.
As Fernandes has settled into lifestyles in Manchester with his wife and three-year-old daughter, Matilde, he has grown into his role each on and off the pitch. Solskjaer is looking for humble players with the ‘X-factor’ for his rebuild, and Fernandes ticks both of those boxes.
He admitted the team has to be “mad” after failing to take all three points away from Goodison Park following their 1-1 draw with Everton in March after what was just his sixth game in a United shirt. His post-match interview, the place he made his assessment, will have been music to his manager’s ears.
He is showing character, leadership, and drive that has been lacking in the United squad, and his capability to set up himself as a leader in the dressing room has enabled him to forge an understanding and relationship with his team-mates on the pitch too.
The free kick in opposition to Manchester City which led to Anthony Martial opening the scoring in United’s final Premier League game before play was halted for COVID-19 may have seemed like a cautiously deliberate out training ground move, however, Fernandes instead put the execution down to the understanding between himself, Fred and Martial.
“It was one of those things: when you are in the pitch, you know your team-mates when you look at them,” Fernandes told MUTV. “It’s like a pass. You look at him, and you sense something.”
Fernandes has managed to set up an understanding and connection with his team-mates that some players take years to develop, let alone weeks. And an insight into his footballing imaginative and prescient will not have been the only element to please United fans this week.
He spoke eloquently about his objectives and ambitions whilst additionally sending a clear warning to any incoming summer arrivals as to what he expects them to bring.
“We already have a massive team, however, whoever comes wants to come to win,” Fernandes stated in a Q& A on United’s official website. “Just to focus to win, I want people hungry for titles and everything. I feel this now in the group, everyone desires to win.”
He may also have only been at the club a matter of weeks, however, it is clear the midfielder has digested what it means to be a United player and the message he must be relaying to the wider world.
His leadership, which has already been noted by one of the club’s biggest captain’s Bryan Robson, came across again as he spoke about linking up with Paul Pogba, aspirations to win the Premier League and compete in the squad.
Fans were right to be excited by Fernandes’ arrival in January, and even though a ball has not been kicked competitively for over 5 weeks, the Portuguese continues to impress, with United doubtlessly having found the leader they have been missing for years.