A former member of the Red Devils academy has opened up on his experience of playing against the Portuguese playmaker from the Premier League.

Manchester United’s performances have been”better” because Bruno Fernandes’ arrival at Old Trafford, based on Craig Cathcart, who states Watford was “very impressed” when they came up against the midfielder.

United snapped Fernandes up from Sporting at a $55 million (#49m/$60m) deal on January 30 with a five-and-a-half-year contract.

The 25-year-old has adapted to the speed and intensity of Premier League soccer like a duck to water, scoring three goals and providing four assists in his first nine trips to the Red Devils.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men appear to have increased their collective criteria with the Portugal international leading by example in the center of the park, according to an 11-match unbeaten run that has reignited their hopes of a top-four finish and finish a yearlong trophy drought.

Fernandes’ best performance so far arguably came through a 3-0 home victory over Watford on February 23, where he netted his first goal for the club in the penalty spot.

Cathcart has revealed how hard the Hornets found coping with the ex-Sporting celebrity that day, while expressing his belief that the playmaker has included a”cutting edge” to United’s lineup.

“I think we were very impressed,” the 31-year-old defender told MEN.

“The thing that impressed me most was that he always looks forward. He always gets the ball and his first thought is to maneuver forward and create opportunities, which perhaps they had been missing before.

“He has brought that little quality and cutting edge to the last third and since he has come in their own performances have been much better, from what I have seen.”

Cathcart, who climbed through United’s academy positions as a child, went on to evaluate Solskjaer’s first full year in charge at Old Trafford, praising the Norwegian for the way he has successfully mixed youth with experience.

“Obviously since Sir Alex left, it has been hard for United, so I believe this is a fresh method of looking at things,” he added.

“I can see this today being great for them, it is possible to see young players now coming to the group and doing very well, so there is no reason why they can not progress and improve.

“They have obviously signed several players also, they have signed Fernandes who everyone’s raving about. He looks an excellent player and that is the combination you need, a fantastic mixture of experienced players and childhood also. I think things are looking up.”