Old Trafford was in great voice for Manchester United’s new gem Bruno Fernandes well before their celebrity signing was able to claim the penalty that could break the deadlock against Watford and ultimately instigate a resounding victory against the relegation battlers on a sunny day at the Theatre of Dreams. The chants have been quickly adopted and adopted by Red Devils, with the man to bring the magic to their midfield making only his second appearance at his new home since his move from Sporting CP into the Premier League on January 30. After to the 3-0 victory, Fernandes was the last United player to leave the Old Trafford turf to make his way down the tunnel and was duly instructed by his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to applaud the impassioned chorus in the lingering Red Army who pumped his name out in unison. Could United get fifth-place and Champions League football? The sports betting providers are certainly starting to think so.
Decision-making, forward-thinking play. It’s been quite a while since a player in his position as Fernandes managed to excite the Old Trafford faithful as much as he did against the Hornets. He could have farted on Sir Bobby Charlton and it might have been applauded. This was seen in the way he subsequently stepped up for the spot-kick he’d’won’ after going to grass. In a style echoing the confidence of Chelsea’s spot-kick specialist Jorginho, who has scored 20 penalties and missed just one in his whole career, the implemented delay via a ‘jump’ by Fernandes for a fraction of a second forced Foster into making his move prematurely to the left, Fernandes picking the opposing corner to transplant the ball precisely into the corner. It was a sign in many ways that things are changing for the Reds.
Ruthless and cold-blooded: most missing, and highly-prized, adjectives to describe a player for Manchester United. Additionally, it is a confidence that’s sorely missed down the road too, together with five penalties were missed by Manchester City out of their past seven attempts. Smooth, slick it is a moment that hints at the promise of Fernandes’ career in the Premier League champions, which now features an expiry date in 2025. At Sporting this year prior to his mega-money move, Fernandes scored 15 goals and recorded 14 assists in 27 appearances across all competitions, an average of 1.07 direct goal involvements per match.
The previous season, he’d finished with 32 goals and 18 assists. Refraining from reading too much into his first goal, his demeanour is ideally reflected by the demeanour and simplicity under pressure. Metaphorically, his teammate Paul Pogba’s infamous ‘twinkle-toes marathon’ run-up has promised a lot but failed to deliver: that the Frenchman has missed four under a year in the previous two seasons. More positively opt to ignore Marcus Rashford’s missed opportunities versus Norwich City and Crystal Palace and rather concentrate on the implementation of the winner in Paris Saint-Germain in the 18/19 Champions League tie, or the opener at the Etihad against Ederson; this steely determination to do well for his team that’s hopefully inherent in Fernandes as well.
From the shadow of an actual hero, the late Harry Gregg who had been commemorated with a gloriously colossal banner that swept throughout the Stretford End in the pre-match ceremonies, and on the eve of the amazing Denis Law’s 80th birthday, Fernandes started his own campaign to place himself in the collective hearts of Manchester United fans. In addition to his debut goal, he completed 100% of his take-ons and won every single tackle he executed. He chucked in an assist for the resident wunderkind Mason Greenwood, who took his square pass before lashing home a shot into the top corner.
Upon going to England, in his announcement, Fernandes declared that his love for Manchester United started when he used to see a fellow Sporting alum compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, a none-too-shabby penalty taker himself. “For me to now play for Manchester United feels incredible,” Fernandes stated to the club site, “I have worked hard to get to this moment and that I can promise the fans that I will provide everything for the badge to help bring us more success and trophies.” If Bruno Fernandes can supply even a slither of the majesty that CR7 rewarded and gave to Manchester United, the fans are in for a treat.