The Portuguese has scored or assisted 44 goals in 47 games so far but struggled in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City
Rarely has a player made an impact quite like Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side sat six points off the top four when he arrived last year. Now they are level on points with Liverpool and talk has turned to a title challenge.
They have gone from averaging 1.4 points per game to 2.2 in the Premier League since the middle of last season and the transformation is almost entirely down to Fernandes.
In 47 appearances for Manchester United so far, the 26-year-old has scored 27 times and provided 17 assists. This season, he has been directly involved in 52 per cent of their goals in all competitions.
The numbers have prompted comparisons with Eric Cantona, whose arrival from Leeds in 1992 was swiftly followed by the club’s first league title win in 26 years.
“He came in and knitted us all together,” said Cantona’s former team-mate Paul Ince on this week’s Monday Night Football. “He was that missing piece in the jigsaw. He made everyone raise their game.”
he comments could just as easily be applied to Fernandes but Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester City, during which their talisman appeared jaded and performed poorly, was a reminder that his extraordinary impact presents challenges as well as benefits.
Have Manchester United become too reliant on Fernandes? Can they cope when his level drops or he’s not in the team at all?