Bruno Fernandes has gone from Manchester United’s key man to a player whose future as a starter is now being questioned after his poor season continued at Arsenal on Saturday.
Within months of his arrival in Manchester, Bruno Fernandes was hailed as a hero.
Manchester United spent £67 million to bring him away from Sporting Lisbon, where he had scored 33 goals in his last full season.
He scored his first goal against Watford after making his debut against Wolves.
United seemed headed for a Europa League place when he came, but they quickly restored their form and went unbeaten in 14 games, finishing third despite the lockout.
The next season, he scored 12 goals in 22 games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s club, which finished second.
In contrast, Fernandes seems to be a shadow of the player he was during the first two and a half years of his Manchester career.
His demands, which were once praised as guiding principles, are now considered laments.
His play has deteriorated to the point that some are doubting his place on the team.
A new deal, at almost £240,000 per week, could not have come at a more inconvenient time.
United and he are both struggling, and the club’s administration appears to have protected him entirely on the basis of his name.
Erik ten Hag is on his way, but there’s no guarantee the 27-year-old will fit into his plans, especially because Donny van de Beek is expected to get a second chance.
The final week of Fernandes’ season summed up his whole season.
They were unsuccessful in a dreadful performance at Anfield, when they were crushed by Liverpool.
Then, on Saturday, he missed a penalty chance to bring Arsenal level, hitting the post with the score at 2-1 before the Gunners won.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who is used to taking penalty kicks, did so in the opposite direction at the Emirates. Fernandes’ decline has paralleled his arrival.
Fernandes looked to be one of those players who thrives on being the team’s main man.
His talismanic status is no longer given with the historic No 7 back at Old Trafford.
Despite having played together for club and country, the duo has yet to discover a successful combination.
They’ve played 33 times together for United, but they’ve only scored three goals and Ronaldo hasn’t provided any assists.
In the past, United would turn to Fernandes when things went wrong, but that isn’t necessarily the case today.
After a slow start, United recruited Jadon Sancho in the summer, a winger who has started to thrive in Manchester after a slow start.
He’s a different option for United, and it looks like his role has dwindled as the club’s squad has grown.
Gary Neville and others have expressed their displeasure with Fernandes for not taking games by the scruff of the neck like he did early in his United tenure.
Bruno Fernandes, Solskjaer’s golden child
The Norwegian was sacked in November of last year, but if it hadn’t been for Fernandes’ presence, he may have been fired much sooner.
Despite the challenges he faces, Solskjaer has made the Portuguese playmaker a vital element of his plans, and the playmaker appears unstoppable.
Fernandes’ rotation didn’t appear to be part of the plan, and he kept his manager’s faith even when he was having a bad day.
Solskjaer justified his use of the player last season.
“There isn’t a chance. He’s one of the guys that runs and covers ground in every game. He’s fantastic at recharging his batteries and getting back on his feet.” He said.
With Ralf Rangnick at the helm, Fernandes does not appear to be on the pedestal he previously was.
This season, the German has been known to leave the 27-year-old out on occasion, and without the guarantee of a starting slot, Fernandes does not appear to relish the thought of fighting for his place.
The question marks in the system
Despite its importance in a team’s ability to dominate in the attacking third, the No. 10 position is becoming more outdated.
Other Premier League players, such as Kevin De Bruyne, Martin Odegaard, and James Maddison, are compelled to step in and assist when the team is out of possession.
Fernandes had been given a free pass in the past, allowing him to stay fresh during United’s control periods.
His flaws are now being exposed by a manager who was known for his aggressive pressure tactics.
When they don’t have the ball, the Red Devils aren’t known for their work ethic, and Fernandes is no exception.
That has probably affected his decisions in the past and may do so again in the future.
Ten Hag will appear, and history indicates that he will place a great deal of pressure on his associates.
When a manager changes, there are typically winners and losers, and Fernandes looks to have lost out post-Solskjaer, with no guarantee he will return under the new regime.