“That’s what one player can do.”
Much of Manchester United’s encouraging form in 2020 has been down to the brilliance of Bruno Fernandes.
In January, with the Red Devils in need of a creative midfielder, the club forked up £47m to capture the Portuguese playmaker from Sporting Clube de Portugal.
And fears that Fernandes would struggle to adapt to a new league halfway through the season were quickly eased.
Fernandes’ first major contribution was an assist for Harry Maguire in United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea on February 17, in his second appearance for the club.
The 26-year-old has not looked back since. His influential performances during the first half of 2020 earned him United’s player of the year award, and his displays in the second half have further enhanced his reputation as one of the Premier League’s most revered midfielders.
Indeed, Fernandes – who has 29 goal involvements in 27 league games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side – was the only United player to make it into Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville’s Premier League team of 2020.
Speaking about Fernandes’ inclusion on Monday Night Football, Carragher said: “I remember having a debate with Roy Keane about how far United were away and sometimes one player can just spark something.
Fernandes impact reminds Carragher of Torres and Suarez
“At times for us at Liverpool, it was [Fernando] Torres who just lifted everyone, [Luis] Suarez did the same when he came.
“You’re never as far away as you think and I think Fernandes has done that with United.
“If you look at United’s record from when he came in to where they are now, third in the league just behind Liverpool, the actual run last season from January to the end of last season was fantastic as well. That’s what one player can do.”
Neville also hailed Fernandes’ impact at United by saying that he has become the ‘leader’ of the team.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 21, 2020
“There’s Paul Pogba, there’s David De Gea, there’s [Harry] Maguire, they’ve all been captain of the team, [Edinson] Cavani now as well with his experience, but he [Fernandes] is the leader in that team, the leader by example, the leader by what he does when he gives the ball away, he sprints straight after it.
“Every time the team are on the ball, he wants the ball, every time he gets the ball he wants to play a pass that matters.
“He’s transformed the whole club, from a point of view. When he doesn’t play, it’s a massive problem and that’s a big issue because you’re almost reliant on him.
“When you look at the players they’ve got, [Donny] Van de Beek, Pogba, [Nemanja] Matic, [Scott] McTominay, he is just absolutely far up there.
“He has been an absolute sensation in that team.”