When Manchester United announced the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon at the end of January, fans were rejoicing. There was a feeling that United had finally signed a player that could fill a void that has been missing for the last couple of seasons.
However, sites such as heart bingo, have been quick to change their odds on United finishing a top-four finish. There is still work for the Red Devils to do if they are to achieve that goal this season, and Fernandes’ form could be crucial to their chances.
Something that Manchester United have been missing for the past number of years is an attacking threat from midfield. Many had hoped that Paul Pogba would be the man to step up, but his form has been inconsistent, and there are still questions surrounding whether the Frenchman even wants to be at Old Trafford. Scott McTominay and Fred have both kicked on this season, but neither have an eye for a pass or can score a goal. Both of those stars are hard-working around the middle of the park, and look to pass the ball on to somebody that can make something happen in the final third.
Juan Mata, Andreas Periera and Jesse Lingard have all been given their chances this season, but none of them have stepped up. Those three midfielders have only scored one goal between them in the Premier League this season. Fernandes immediately brings with him a quality in the final third that the other number tens don’t have. Last season, he scored 20 goals from midfield and made 13 assists. If he can replicate those numbers at Old Trafford, then he will be a massive hit amongst the fans.
As you can see from the number of assists that Fernandes has, he has the ability to thread the right passes to the attacking players. However, it’s great to have them qualities, but if nobody in the final third is running in behind, then there will still be a shortage of goals.
United have lost Marcus Rashford for the next couple of months, which means there will be extra pressure on Anthony Martial to step up. The Frenchman is pacey, and was shown a lot of trust by Solskjaer when the club decided to sell Romelu Lukaku. However, he has been unable to supply the goals that are needed. He has scored just eight goals in the Premier League so far this season, and United have failed to score in their last three games.
There is a feeling that United will need to drop Martial and give another striker a chance. Odion Ighalo will give the Red Devils a different option, but Mason Greenwood has already shown his quality at running in behind. He has scored nine goals in all competitions so far this season and should be given a chance at filling the void left by Rashford.
Fernandes is a step in the positive direction for United, but to improve their top-four chances, they will need to work much better in the final third around their new Portuguese star.