Rangnick has a decision to make over Fernandes
I’ll be the first person to laud Bruno Fernandes when he’s playing well because I think he’s been a huge part of Manchester United’s progression in recent years.
The Portugal international signed for the club in January 2020 and without him, I’m not sure where the current team would be. He was regularly praised for being the focal point of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and would constantly prove his doubters wrong.
Last season, the 27-year-old was beyond exceptional. In 58 appearances in all competitions, Fernandes scored 28 goals and grabbed 17 assists in what was a phenomenal individual campaign. He produced numbers akin to those of Frank Lampard in his heyday and he was a joy to watch.
I don’t think many United supporters would contest the fact that Fernandes has been the club’s best player of 2021. His impact has been gargantuan and you can tell he’s one of those players who gets what it means to play for United.
However, there’s no doubt Fernandes has experienced a massive drop-off in performance levels this campaign.
We could attribute that to a variety of reasons; maybe it’s to do with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo or perhaps he’s just going through a bad patch. Only he will know the real reason why there’s been a downgrade in the quality of his displays.
Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road on December 11, 2021 in Norwich, England.
Fernandes hasn’t been prolific in front of goal this season
Fernandes is yet to open his account in the Champions League and has bagged just five league goals, and while his return of nine assists in all competitions is still a healthy return, there’s no doubt his numbers are down on last season’s.
Since his opening day hat-trick against Leeds, Fernandes has scored just twice in 21 appearances. Ralf Rangnick’s arrival at Old Trafford has seen him deploy his trademark 4-2-2-2 formation, in which an attacking midfield duo sit behind the front two. This means there are no wingers in the system.
Fernandes has often played as the left-sided attacking midfielder and, while he definitely feels like a Rangnick-type player, supporters have been growing frustrated with his performances.
The main problem with Fernandes is that it’s hard to drop him because he creates chances. But if he continues to give the ball away as much as he has done in recent weeks, United may have no choice. There’s no doubt he’s a fine creator of goalscoring chances, but if you keep surrendering possession you’re not likely to get many chances to create for your teammates.
Personally, I’d drop him for a game or two, just so he can get his head back in the zone.
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