The waves are crashing overboard on the ship that is Manchester United right now, that’s no secret to anyone.
The seas are getting rougher, and right now the kindest elements don’t seem to be on the horizon.
Of the unhappy crewmates, Bruno Fernandes seems to be the one with the biggest ax to grind. The Portuguese talisman is far from happy.
In fact, as reported by SportsmailFernandes is increasingly frustrated by the lack of clear direction under boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching staff.
It would be fair to say that a malaise has really taken hold at Old Trafford and Fernandes would not be far off wrong. United have looked aimless for some time and there is no sign of a turnaround.
He disappeared during Old Trafford’s abject loss to rowdy Man City neighbors and was labeled “too emotional” by former Red Gary Neville in the aftermath. So is Fernandes himself part of the problem?
Bruno Fernandes is getting tired of the United situation and feels that he is not given enough direction
We only have to rewind 12 months to observe Fernandes in his sparkling, irrepressible prime.
During the last season, Fernandes was a candidate for Player of the Month after every four weeks and naturally a huge favorite for the PFA Player of the Year.
As United advanced in second place behind rival City, ahead of injury-ravaged Liverpool, Fernandes was the driving force behind all the good and good.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the former Sporting Lisbon player was on an upward trajectory since his arrival in January 2020.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is on the brink of losing his job as stars like Fernandes battle it out
FERNANDES THIS SEASON UNTIL NOW …
Premier League games – 11
Goals in the Premier League – 4
Assists – 3
Champions League Games – 4
Assists – 5
EFL Cup Games – 1
Fernandes may have signed for United just as fans were banned from stadiums due to coronavirus restrictions and many blackout periods, but it didn’t matter.
He came to life in the Premier League like a duck overboard and wasted little time not only becoming not only United’s standout player, but also the most formidable star in the English game.
As much as United had days off, Fernandes was always there to provide a spark and help snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Now, however, the tables have turned.
United are unlucky and Fernandes seems to have let the ongoing disappearance really get to him. The form has faded and, right now, so are United’s chances.
The 27-year-old has four goals and three assists in the Premier League so far this season, at the time of writing. Those figures are in no way to scoff at, yet a player from the dizzying heights of Fernandes can, and has consistently done better.
Most worryingly, the goals are apparently running out. What made Fernandes so devastatingly effective for United was his uncanny ability to find the back of the net, while also making everything else happen around him.
United’s number 18 hasn’t signed up for his team since early September, when he came home in a 4-1 win at Newcastle.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s return should have helped Fernandes, but he seems to have done the opposite.
However, he is still making things happen. Of Fernandes’ last six games for United in all competitions, he has had four assists. United have won just two of these games: one was the narrowest of recent victories over Atalanta, and another the scalp of a toothless Tottenham who failed to get a single shot on goal.
Fernandes is suffering from the recession of the entire United team, so it is not surprising that he has raised real concerns about direction and progression.
United’s current situation means he is contributing less effectively as a result, and now that he’s entering his prime years as a European midfielder, it’s only natural that Fernandes should start asking the big questions, for the sake of his own career.
However, the warning signs have been present. At the end of last season, United suffered a wobble that coincided in a telling way with Fernandes’ silence in games; particularly against large-scale opposition.
In May, Liverpool crashed at Old Trafford for a 4-2 win as United faded despite Fernandes himself opening the scoring in just 10 minutes.
At that time, questions were asked of Fernandes. Was he burning just when United needed him most? Or, rather, was the excessive reliance on him taking its toll?
Still, he scored four goals in the last 10 games of the campaign to cap off a flawless season of 18 goals and 11 assists in 37 Premier League games, with nine more goals in Europe and a solo goal in the FA Cup.
United had done enough to safely slip into second place and end the season on a positive note, albeit perhaps masked by deficiencies and the injury crisis of their teammates in the top four rivals. The title winners, City, had long since escaped the proceedings.
The Portuguese talisman was one of the many United players who failed to get close to City
However, any underlying problems were overlooked. Many fans and experts shared the same strong opinion that United, and Fernandes in particular, would benefit from an exciting summer of bustling activity in the transfer window.
And, in fact, said business was carried out to the beat. United eventually landed the signing of Jadon Sancho for £ 75 million, before snagging Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and then stunning the football world to bring Cristiano Ronaldo home.
Surely Fernandes, of all people, was licking his lips in anticipation. With such a variety of talents flooding the gates of United’s base in Carrington, it would certainly be a case where he would no longer carry the stick around his neck.
Right…? Well not exactly.
Whether as a result of ceasing to be the solo star or realizing that United are still not making any clear and definite progress despite such a star-studded team, Fernandes just isn’t doing it the way he did. Perhaps it is a combination of both elements.
The arrival of compatriot and close friend Ronaldo should have multiplied Fernandes tenfold, but his game appears to have been compromised as a result. Sure, Fernandes now has one of the best scorers to ever play the game racing in front of him, but this is a Ronaldo in the twilight of his career.
Also, more importantly, he is still a Ronaldo who demands leadership and constant sacrifice from his teammates around him. Remember those instinctive and spontaneous streaks of Fernandes last season? We seem to be seeing less of them.
Fernandes cuts out a dejected figure as the weeks go by, but must help United regain shape
If he felt like the main man last season, now the same cannot be said for Fernandes. United have improved a lot on paper, but the results say the opposite.
Fernandes is completely justified in airing his discontent with the current state of affairs, but the problems simply cannot disappear overnight. Right now, he, like the cohort of his teammates, is part of the problem and must find a way to become at least a solution.
Whether or not the writing really is on the wall for Solskjaer remains to be seen, but an already wavering season runs the very real risk of being completely derailed.
Regardless of his current happiness levels at Old Trafford, Fernandes must get back to the front for the Red Devils and hold the trident once again. Otherwise, the nine-point gap between United and the summit could start to look much uglier, very quickly.