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How Bruno Fernandes Transformed Manchester Utd going into 2020-21 PL Season

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The signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon in January by Manchester United has proved to be an instrumental one in helping them qualify for next year’s UEFA Champions League. Despite the semi-final loss to Sevilla in the Europa League this season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United finished 3rd in the Premier League and will be optimistic for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba formed an impressive duo since the PL restart.
Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba formed an impressive duo since the PL restart.

The manager’s decision to field the same XI in majority of games eventually forced them to drop points at home to Southampton and West Ham and their lack of depth and poor team selection was key to getting knocked out in the FA Cup semi-final vs Chelsea.

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With other big clubs making signings already in the transfer window, the onus is on United to bolster their ranks after showing their inefficiency from players coming off the bench.

Whilst his individual brilliance is evident, Fernandes’ arrival has seen the upliftment in the form of players around him. The attacking trio of Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford scored at will after football returned post lockdown (the team has scored 22 goals in its last nine league games), and the likes of Pogba and Nemanja Matic have looked more settled in the midfield. The Manchester side looked prolific after the PL restart becoming the first side in Premier League history to score 4 or more goals in three consecutive matches.
Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes for around 55m euros (£47m) in January.

Bruno Fernandes’ Statistics

Even more significant, however, is that he has produced more than three times as many passes into the opposition box as any of his team-mates. In the Premier League as a whole, in fact, his total of 48 is second only to Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold since the start of February. A player who scored 63 goals and provided 52 assists in 137 games for Sporting Lisbon.
He looks United’s shot master, with an average of 4.0 efforts per game that puts him some way clear of top scorer Rashford, on 3.4, let alone anyone else. He is adding a long-range threat that United lacked: he averages 3.0 attempts from outside the box; no one else is over 1.5.

“We have to admit that he’s come in and been a massive influence. A massive impact. He’s been fantastic, scoring goals, creating goals, but also his enthusiasm and mentality around the place has helped”

-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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He wants the ball in any situation, no matter how tight the space, and he wants to get the ball forward. If the odd pass goes astray, it doesn’t matter. The risk-reward has become obvious, and United have become easier on the eye, with his sense of urgency starting to spread.
In the 2019/20 season:
At Sporting: 17 games played, 8 goals 7 assists (G/A every 102 mins)
At United: 19 games played, 11 goals 7 assists (G/A every 95 mins)

As a personality, Fernandes is charming yet  outspoken. He seems to possess the Manchester United DNA, just what United needs just as much as a new creator. One of the key reasons he was signed was because of his leadership skills, and that looks to be paying off instantly.

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The lack of squad depth was evident in the final games of the season and despite Fernandes’ addition that transformed their season, they will have to make quality signings if they have to challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. Chelsea, who finished 4th, below United on goal difference, have already been heavily active in the transfer market. Frank Lampard has already signed the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and are close to sealing deals for Kai Havertz and free-agent Thiago Silva.

Solskjaer’s slight over-reliance on his front 6 could cause increased fatigue and increase the risk of injuries, so management of key players like Bruno Fernandes will be crucial next season. A productive summer in the transfer market could be just what United needs to build a successful squad leading them back to their glory days once again.


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