If there’s one player that is dragging his Man United team-mates kicking and screaming through matches at the moment, it’s Bruno Fernandes.
The Portuguese has been a real shining light for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in amongst the gloom of having lost far too many matches already.
Clearly, the Red Devils are getting the most out of the player because he is being utilised in his favourite position.
In his younger days, however, he was forced to play as a right-back and central defender.
“I played central defender for the most part, when I started playing football, either central defence or right-back,” he told the United podcast, cited by the official Man United website.
I liked to play as a right-back because I was aggressive at the time, I was that guy who wanted to give tackles and everything. As a central defender, I was the free one, being prepared to follow the wingers if the right-back wasn’t there and all that.
I was really good, I had a coach who said to me, ‘If you want to be a top player, you will need to play as a central defender. If you want to be a good player, you will be a midfielder.
I think he was wrong but, maybe as a central defender, I could be much better, I don’t know! At the time I didn’t like to play there, but everyone was saying I was a good defender, they said I was smart, that I covered the sides, but, at one point, I had the chance to go to the team a year-group older than me and I said to the coach look, I don’t want to play central defence any more, but if I have to play central defence, I would prefer to go back and play as a midfielder with the guys my age.
But when I joined that team, the coach looked at the list of players, and because some were on vacation he said, ‘Oh we have no strikers’ and I said ‘I’m a striker!’ He said, ‘I thought you were a central defender’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t play there any more, I’m a striker!’ So he gave me one try-out in training, I scored twice and he said ‘okay, you can play a striker!’
So he played me as striker in one game, then, in the second game, I was like a ‘fake 9’ with two strikers, and after that I moved back to no.10 and no.8.
Thankfully, his force of personality even then eventually saw to it that he would direct operations from his midfield sentry, and it’s safe to say that he’s never looked back.
His character, grit and determination, allied to his goalscoring expoloits, make him a real all-rounder from midfield, and Man United need to get back to winning ways if they want to hold onto him for the long term.