During the international break, Bruno Fernandes led Portugal with two goals and three assists.
During the first international break of the season, nobody at Manchester United needed to be reminded of just what Bruno Fernandes is capable of. The Portuguese sensation did, though, offer a five-star nudge.
With two goals and three assists in back-to-back Euro 2024 qualifying victories for his nation, the United playmaker was a bright spot as Portugal kept up their all-out effort to reach Germany the following summer. Since making his senior debut in 2017, he has accumulated 59 caps and 33 direct goal involvements.
However, a statistically outstanding player like Fernandes has an impact for both club and nation that goes beyond statistics. Erik ten Hag must refrain from sacrificing him in order to address a persistent issue because he is the center of gravity for both teams.
The 29-year-old was used by United on their right side in eight games last season, often in pivotal contests. It was a successful experiment, save for a creditable draw at Camp Nou that United should have won and a loss to neighbors Manchester City in their FA Cup final beneath the illustrious Wembley arch.
In those games, Fernandes had four goals and four assists, and overall, the outcomes United achieved with his assistance were fruitful. Fernandes must ultimately remain (nearly) front and center if Ten Hag and his team are to regain their offensive strength when they return to home and European duty.
After playing on the right against Real Sociedad in the previous campaign, Fernandes stated, “I play wherever the coach needs me to play. “I try my best to help the team and to be involved in a way that I can be helpful to the team, even though it’s not my position,” However, Fernandes in the No. 10 spot would be far more beneficial to his team.
Last season, Ten Hag used Fernandes when United wanted to stabilize, make a sacrifice, or surprise their adversaries. He no longer needs to make the sacrifice; that responsibility now belongs to a different colleague.
Ten Hag is considering what to do in a situation that former managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick were also unable to resolve. United is missing Antony after the Brazilian was placed on leave to address allegations of abuse, and the club may not offer a pathway back into the fold for Jadon Sancho either.
United is in a rush to put their right-side Plan C together because they have big games against Brighton and Bayern Munich coming up. The danger is not worth it for their current Plan B with Fernandes.
The former Sporting Lisbon player is far more efficient from central areas, as he emphasized against Slovakia and Luxembourg this week on the international stage, albeit two of his assists during the Luxembourg thrashing did come from out wide. They were, however, crucially from the second stage of corner routines involving a flooded box.