Gary Neville says the “one problem” Man Utd have with Bruno Fernandes is that the midfielder “he has to play” every game.
The Portugal international has scored 27 goals in 47 matches in all competitions for Man Utd since joining from Sporting Lisbon a year ago, while he has also contributed 16 assists.
He helped Man Utd to a third-placed finish in the Premier League last term, with that looking unlikely when he arrived, and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are in a position to go three points clear of Liverpool at the top, if they win their game in hand.
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Such is their reliance on Fernandes that Neville reckons the Red Devils can ill-afford to rest the 26-year-old.
“I don’t think anybody could think one person would have the impact on this Manchester United team [he has],” Neville told Sky Sports during their coverage of United’s loss to arch-rivals Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.
“We all thought we’d need four or five players yet, with him in the team, they feel unbeatable. Without him they’re nowhere near as good.
“The one problem Ole has is he can’t rotate him. In any game that matters he has to play.”
Speaking a month ago after Man Utd had come from a goal down to beat West Ham 3-1, Neville said: “They can’t play without Bruno (Fernandes). I don’t know what it is, he’s a very good player but you’d think that Van de Beek and Pogba, McTominay in midfield with Greenwood, Cavani and Martial would be able to do so much better than that.
“The minute Bruno comes on – and Marcus Rashford as well who probably had a bigger impact yesterday – but Bruno’s impact on the team is huge. You can’t compare Bruno to Harry Kane but you know Kane has an influence on his team that’s bigger than just his performances, which are excellent.
“Bruno is exactly the same with this Manchester United team and he’s only been there a short amount of time. As soon as he came on, they seemed more arrogant, more connected, more cohesive. I don’t know what it is when he doesn’t play.”