Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has explained incidents that saw him apologise to Harry Maguire and Tyrell Malacia. The Portuguese is known for his fiery demeanour on the pitch but insists that signs of frustration aren’t personal and that he remains a popular figure in the dressing room.
Fernandes has been one of United’s key players since signing from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020. Having set a high bar in terms of goals and assists, it didn’t take long before the attacking midfielder started to demand more of his team-mates.
Two-and-a-half years into his United career, Fernandes still makes his presence felt on the field as shown by previous skirmishes with Malacia and Maguire.
“[Malacia] was trying to keep the ball in a good way [but I was] completely free on the other side of the pitch,” Fernandes told The Athletic. “I said, ‘Ty, just put your head up and look to the other side’. He was quite angry with me because I was talking to him. But he didn’t understand what I was saying.
“At the end of the game, I went up to him and put my hands on his head calmly and said, ‘When I talk to you, I am not shouting at you in a bad way, I am just asking you to switch the play’. He said, ‘Yeah, sorry, I was just tired’. In some games, it will be him shouting at me and I am OK with that.
“I remember with [Maguire] in the Europa League against Copenhagen. We were defending and I tried to control the ball and take on a defender. I lost the ball and he shouted at me, ‘Bruno, hold the ball!’. I was tired and said, ‘Don’t shout!’. In the first half of extra time, I went up to him and said sorry for talking back.”
Maguire was given a vote of confidence by Erik ten Hag to continue as Man Utd captain this season, despite facing heavy criticism for his performances last term. A demotion to the bench with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez thriving in a new centre-back partnership could soon see him lose the armband, however, with Fernandes among a core group of senior stars in contention to take over.
Cristiano Ronaldo and David De Gea may also put forward a case to become Ten Hag’s skipper with Maguire no closer to regaining his spot in the starting XI. Fernandes may fancy his chances, however, given that Ronaldo is expected to leave at the end of the season.
Despite posting meagre goal and assist numbers so far in 2022/23, Fernandes has been influential in United’s resurrection after falling to two dismal defeats in Ten Hag’s first two matches as boss.
Questions remain over whether he and Ronaldo can thrive in the same team, but Fernandes has dismissed those claims as nonsense. Marcus Rashford has been the preferred option up top this campaign regardless and United are sweating over whether he will be fit enough to face Manchester City after the international break.