Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes named PL Player of the Month

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Bruno Fernandes has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and the Manchester United playmaker has been named the Player of the Month for February.

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Following his $88 million January move from Sporting Lisbon to Man United, Bruno Fernandes has been a revelation with four assists and three goals in nine appearances in all competitions.

His pinpoint deliveries and creativity in the final third has made a huge difference, as expected, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side have now gone 11 games without defeat in all competitions.

Bruno Fernandes was chased by Man United all summer long and they eventually signed him in January and if the Premier League season does continue following the coronavirus pandemic, the Portuguese playmaker will no doubt be the difference in United making the Champions League.

Take a look at the video above to see all of Bruno Fernandes’ touches from the big Manchester Derby win against Man City, as Fernandes will be a star in the Premier League for many years to come.

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Premier League is better with unique Fernandes magic

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It has been a while – if ever – since the Premier League has seen a player like Bruno Fernandes.

The Manchester United midfielder, who joined this January from Portuguese club Sporting CP, has so far been worth every single penny of the $70 million the Red Devils forked over. At 25 years old, Fernandes was minted as the PFA Player of the Month for February on Monday, and it’s no surprise to see him garner plaudits left and right since his arrival a month ago.

What makes Bruno Fernandes so wonderful to watch – and concurrently so valuable to Manchester United – is also what makes him look on paper to be total chaos personified. He is, quite literally, everywhere. When his movements are transcribed onto graphical images, Bruno Fernandes appears to be a chicken with his head cut off. He kind of is, but it’s obviously more nuanced than that.

First, the fun part. Here’s what his last three matches before that look like on paper, followed by his heat maps for the entire season thus far, from both Sporting CP first and then Manchester United. (Click here for a key of the StatsZone app dashboards)

As you can see, the new Manchester United talisman covers nearly the entire attacking half of the field. He also contributes a heavy amount defensively, to moderate success. This isn’t exactly what sets him completely apart, but it’s the start. Few players are able to cover this amount of attacking ground while having such an effect on the game. Kevin De Bruyne is a player with similar freedom, and he has budded into maybe the most destructive creative force in Europe.

Yet while de Bruyne is more of a facilitator, Fernandes is more of a nomad. The Portuguese international doesn’t exactly feature on the ball nearly as much as his Belgian counterpart across town, instead choosing to float and wander looking for pockets of space as his teammates share the workload. If you watch Bruno Fernandes off the ball, he’s continually serving as a foil for his fellow attackers, often drifting away from a ball-carrier’s direction where space is available hoping to either carry too many defenders or none at all.

Bruno Fernandes picks his spots.

That was never more evident than against Manchester City, where the midfielder had to take special care and not waste what precious little possession the Red Devils had. With the visitors holding an enormous possessional advantage at Old Trafford – Man City out-passed Manchester United 671-215 – Fernandes was forced to make the most of the scraps he could find. He started the game out on the right flank as Anthony Martial found joy down the opposite end, but soon drifted centrally and then to his favored left edge as Daniel James grew in influence on the ball. He eventually found his moment, first earning the key 29th minute foul before serving up the game’s most critical moment.

When he did deliver, it highlighted another of his wide-ranging skill set: Bruno Fernandes is a set-piece wizard. Not only does he consistently deliver excellent corners into dangerous areas, but his chipped free-kick was left on a platter for Anthony Martial on the opening goal. All told, Fernandes seemingly did more with his limited touches – 25 received passes, 24 attempted passes – than Manchester City did all 90 minutes while hoofing a massive 33 crosses and appearing devoid of any creative flair. At the end of the match, despite the huge gulf in possession, Manchester United had somehow out-shot Man City 12-7.

Watch the Every Touch video posted above. What do you notice? Yes, Manchester United was sloppy against Manchester City at times, and Fernandes included. That’s what happens when you play the Pep Guardiola swarm and press. Still, every time he loses the ball he races back to try and challenge, and every time he connects with a teammate there’s a calming presence before he races off to find space of his own off the ball.

Where else can you find a player with this varied and unique skill set?

De Bruyne is the most obvious comparison, but the Belgian does not tackle at such a rate – Fernandes has him almost double, with two tackles per game to de Bruyne’s 1-3. Tackling is still an area of improvement for Fernandes, having whiffed on all five of his attempts against Manchester City to leave him 10/29 so far in Premier League play, but the pressing output is the important part for an attacking player like Fernandes. Otherwise, statistically KDB has a mimic on his hands, which is high praise.

Mesut Ozil is a player that, when at his best, can be a versatile and diverse attacking player but he also wouldn’t dare produce the defensive contributions (0.9 tackles, 0.3 interceptions, and 0.1 clearances per game to Bruno Fernandes’ 2.0, 1.0, and 1.8). Mason Mount will track back every so often, but his usage is far more one-sided as the Chelsea youngster favors the left flank. Fernandes’ countrymate Joao Moutinho is closer statistically than one might think, considering he currently sits eighth in the Premier League in chances created, but he still does not get forward with the fluidity and consistency that Fernandes does, instead anchored in the middle of the Wolves formation and favoring the left side.

In typical Ole Gunnar Solskjaer fashion, the Manchester United boss compared his new signing to a Red Devils great in Paul Scholes, in part thanks to the number of the back of his shirt, and Wayne Rooney echoed that comparison just a few days ago, according to the Mirror, after Derby County was dropped by Manchester United in the FA Cup. In truth, Fernandes has a bit more flair than Scholes did, and that’s not a knock on the midfield legend. Fernandes simply seems to play with a little less strength and a little more finesse than was Scholes’ calling card.

There really is no other player quite like Bruno Fernandes, and he could be the foundation upon which Manchester United builds its new era. There is a new great player who calls the Premier League home, and that should excite fans of all teams, even those who are adversely affected by his magic.

‘You can’t ask for more’: Solskjaer delighted as red-hot Man United beat City

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Manchester United are, once again, derby winners, holding off an aggressive Manchester City to a 2-0 win.

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It is 10 games unbeaten now for United, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer couldn’t be more content for a group of players – and fan base – that were on the other side of the spectrum not too long ago.

“The desire, attitude, commitment,” he said. “The connection between fans and players and the team. What a day they’ve had today, both the players and the fans. Of course they made us defend, that’s the type of players they are, but if our fans can see players with attitude and commitment and desire, then we’ve done our job as coaches today.”

Such positive result means United have achieved a league double of rivals City, and that they consolidate their hopes of making a top-four finish. Bruno Fernandes continues to demonstrate he was well worth the transfer dilemma, contributing two goals and three assists since joining from Sporting in January. The Portuguese international and Anthony Martial have been vital throughout the Red Devils’ fine run of form.

“Anthony and Bruno have hit if off,” the Norwegian manager said about his players. “It is a privilege to be a manager of a squad with this attitude. You can’t ask for more. They are going to improve as players as well.”

It’s worth asking how Solskjaer will navigate the coming weeks on the back of such palpable, positive momentum. United may be flying high, but they close out March with both legs of their Round of 16 Europa League matchup, a league bout against Tottenham, and Norwich City in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

That, in addition to United’s overdefensive posture against City, will may be two topics Solskjaer and company may look over in the coming days. It’s been affective, but is it sustainable in the long run?

For now, it’s time to celebrate that Manchester is, once again, red.

“Well of course it’s a derby, the fans love it, the players love it,” Solskjaer said. “For our players to beat the team that’s Man City, with the problems that we’ve had as well, it’s fantastic. I’m just delighted for them. We played against an absolute top, top team. Of course we had to defend and they had possession, but we’re delighted with the outcome.”

VIDEO: Fernandes, Martial combine for magic Man United goal

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Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial combine for a beautiful Man United goal in the Manchester Derby against Man City.

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The Portuguese playmaker dinked a lovely ball over the defense and Martial ran onto it before smashing home past Ederson.

Man City’s goalkeeper should have done better with the shot at the near post but take nothing away from the creativity of Fernandes and Martial.

The clever free kick and the movement then finish from Martial was sublime and that moment of magic will live long in the memory of Man United fans in the Manchester Derby.

Take a look at the Man United goal in the video below as Man United’s superb run of form continues.

Wild VAR ending leaves Everton, Man Utd level

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Bruno Fernandes traded first-half goals in a 1-1 draw between Everton and Manchester United on Sunday at Goodison Park.

Carlo Ancelotti was shown a red card after the final whistle for protesting a disallowed stoppage-time own goal from Harry Maguire.

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Jordan Pickford‘s late double save kept the point with the Goodison Park side.

United remains fifth with 42 points, three back of Chelsea and eight behind Leicester City.

Everton’s 37 points are good for 11th, behind Arsenal on goal differential.


Three things we learned

1. VAR rules out Maguire own goal: Brutal stuff from Harry Maguire here — what are you trying to do, guy? — but VAR had the final word. There is plenty of room for debate as to whether there is a clear and obvious error in the call on the field of a goal.

David De Gea made a great initial save on what was always going to be an embarrassing day for him after a third-minute error. Calvert-Lewin’s tame shot was turned inside the near post by Maguire, and a prone and offside Gylfi Sigurdsson withdrew his feet to allow the ball inside the post.

There are three big questions here: Did Sigurdsson interfere with the play? Was De Gea going to be able to get to the ball? And why is Sigurdsson just sitting on the pitch with the match in the balance?

2. Pickford’s incredible save saves point: Pickford disappointed on Fernandes’ opener, but he stopped the show when he blocked the Portuguese’s 90th-minute shot to Odion Ighalo at the back post. Ighalo helped by pushing the shot toward the center of the goal, where Pickford reacted brilliantly to keep the score line 1-1.

3. Classic tale of two halves: United’s first-half response to De Gea’s mistake was masterful. The Red Devils had almost everything to say about the half, and did almost nothing but defend in the second.

Look at the graph of “attack momentum” from Sofascore. The Toffees had nothing going for the vast majority of the first half, and flipped a switch just before halftime.

Man of the Match: Calvert-Lewin and Fernandes were the difference makers, and we’ll give the nod to DCL for his hard-luck ending. Sorry, Bruno. Great goal, though.


David De Gea and Dominic Calvert-Lewin featured twice in the first five minutes.

The Manchester United took way too much time on the ball and hoofed his clearance into the leaping Calvert-Lewin, whose block bounded into the Red Devils goal for 1-0.

And a Michael Keane long ball met Calvert-Lewin in stride, but De Gea got a piece of the striker’s outside-of-the-boot bid to double the lead.

Nemanja Matic struck a loose ball off the Everton crossbar soon after as the match started with vigor.

The momentum and flow was on United’s side when Fernandes lashed a pretty swerving shot that fooled Jordan Pickford. Hashtag HeWillWantThatBack.

The half became more notable for fouls than chances, though Richarlison missed a bid to head a Leighton Baines cross home in the stoppage time.

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Gylfi Sigurdsson spun a free kick off the near post as Everton sought a go-ahead goal.

The Toffees had the better of the first 20 minutes in the second half, and Richarlison earned a corner off De Gea in the 65th.

De Gea denied Calvert-Lewin four minutes later, the striker sufficiently closed down by Maguire.

United finally got a breath on a 77th-minute charge that Leighton Baines put out for a corner.

Fernandes forced a low save out of Pickford as Everton spent a few minutes down a man due to an injury to Djibril Sidibe.

Pickford’s double save in stoppage time set up Calvert-Lewin for an apparent winner when Maguire deflected a shot past his own keeper, but VAR ruled that a prone and offside Gylfi Sigurdsson interfered with play.

Carlo Ancelotti was displeased, and will not be on the sideline for a while.