Bruno's biggest test: Two years on from signing for Manchester United Fernandes has lost his No 10 role under Ralf Rangnick and the goals have dried up... but can the £63m man rediscover his touch?
- January 2022 marks two years since Manchester United signed Bruno Fernandes
- Fernandes was an instant hit and scored 40 goals in his first season and a half
- In the same period he registered 25 assists and became the main talisman
- Now Fernandes is struggling under Ralf Rangnick and the goals have dried up
The Portugal playmaker approaches the same fixture on Monday facing his most challenging period in English football.
Fernandes was an instant hit at United, and a record of 40 goals and 25 assists in his first one-and-a-half seasons underlines just how important he became to the club.
Bruno Fernandes does not look like the player he once was for Manchester United
But since claiming a hat-trick on the opening day of this season against Leeds, he has scored only two more for United — although nine assists is still a healthy contribution.
The return of Cristiano Ronaldo appears to have had an impact on Fernandes’ position as talisman, with the latter conceding penalty duties to his Portuguese compatriot after an awful injury-time miss against Aston Villa in September.
Ralf Rangnick’s arrival as interim manager has also done him few favours, with the German’s 4-2-2-2 formation denying Fernandes the No 10 role he prefers.
Under new boss Ralf Rangnick, Fernandes is unable to fill his preferred No 10 position
The 27-year-old has cut a frustrated figure and a booking for dissent at Newcastle, when his body language was criticised by former United defender Gary Neville, meant he was suspended for Thursday’s 3-1 win over Burnley.
Rangnick described it as United’s best attacking performance under him and Fernandes’ immediate return is not a certainty.
‘We will see,’ said Rangnick. ‘We have Bruno back and quite a few options. Up front we have enough other alternatives.’
United also hope Victor Lindelof will be fit after a bout of Covid, leaving Eric Bailly free to join Ivory Coast for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo saw Fernandes replaced as United's central talisman
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