United’s new playmaker had himself quite the week as he bagged an assist in the big win at Chelsea on Monday, then won and scored a penalty kick and had another assist in United’s 3-0 win against Watford on Sunday.
Safe to say the $88 million arrival from Sporting Lisbon is settling in well in the Premier League and his manager is adamant that Fernandes’ early form proves it was money well spent.
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“In today’s market I think we got a good deal,” Solskjaer said. “He has come in and done really well, given everyone a boost, that means more than getting a player in. He has done something to the crowd. You can see with the supporters, they are used to players with that personality, mentality and quality, all the attributes of a Manchester United player the fans have seen many, many times before. From day one, the first minute, he has felt like a presence in the group, demanding the ball from his first training session. Some players take time warming up, but he felt confident straight away.”
Fernandes, 25, is a proper playmaker, one who loves to get on the ball, dictate the tempo of the game and loves to make surging runs forward. He has shown that at Man United already.
His 64 goals and 36 assists over the past three seasons for Sporting proved he has a cutting edge and his creativity and ability to unlock defenses in the final third is exactly what Man United needed all season long.
Which previous Man United players would Solskjaer liken him to?
“He’s a bit of a mix between Scholes and Veron to be fair, the temperament of Veron and a lot of the quality of him and Scholes,” Solskjaer said. “He has done fantastically. He is showing his personality, he’s a Manchester United character who wants to step out at Old Trafford, wants the ball all the time, wants to control the rhythm, help out his team-mates and conduct the play. The way he took the penalty was fantastic.”
With Man United now in fifth place in the Premier League and three points off fourth-place Chelsea, they are right in the thick of the battle for UEFA Champions League qualification. They do face Everton, Man City, Tottenham and Sheffield United in their next four PL games and that will be pivotal in deciding if they’re going to reach the Champions League next season.
Given Man City’s European ban and the potential for a UCL spot to move down to fifth-place, Man United are exactly where Solskjaer hoped they would be right now.