The Manchester United captain was the subject of criticism over his leadership skills at the back end of last season but Erik ten Hag feels Bruno Fernandes has answered his critics
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag waxed lyrical over captain Bruno Fernandes after his match-winning penalty against Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon.
The Portugal international sealed the impressive comeback victory from the spot, with United overturning Forest’s two goal advantage to win 3-2. Goals from Taiwo Awoniyi and Wily Boly put Steve Cooper’s men 2-0 up inside the opening five minutes, before Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Fernandes broke the hearts of their guests at Old Trafford.
Fernandes put in a particularly spirited display and fought tirelessly to ensure the three points remained in Manchester. It is for exactly that reason that his manager heaped praise on him come full-time, citing his ability to keep calm when the going gets tough as a key positive.
“In all aspects he played a very good game, at the highest level, keeping his composure, controlling his emotions,” the United boss explained. “He was great in attack, he made the difference, so I’m very happy with his performance.”
The United boss had spoken glowingly about Fernandes before the game, telling reporters at his pre-Forest presser: “Last season when he did it (captaining United), he did brilliantly. Now as well. He’s an inspiration, an example for the team, he has the personality. He is a very good captain.”
Ten Hag’s comments make for interesting reading given they come a few months after Graeme Souness’ specifically called out Fernandes for lacking leadership. Speaking on the Up Front with Simon Jordan podcast, the Scotsman was scathing in his review of the 28-year-old’s ability to rally the troops.
“He is obviously not a leader, it’s as plain as the nose on the end of your face he is not a leader. His attitude when they went 3-0 down at Liverpool was appalling,” Souness added. “I said at the time Simon, you would not want to be in the trenches with him, simple as.”
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“Fernandes you’ll see be a star when they are on top, when they are on the front foot and he is creative, he’s a real talent, but he showed a side to him [during the 7-0 defeat by Liverpool] that day at Anfield which was very unattractive.”
The claim was made look to foolish on Saturday, when Fernandes bailed side out of what would have been a notably underwhelming result. Instead, United now have six points from three games, with a tricky trip to Arsenal up next.
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