Manchester United newcomer Bruno Fernandes made his debut at Old Trafford in a dull 0-0 draw with fellow top-four challengers Wolves.
United’s performance lacked energy once again despite the new signing’s best efforts. Movement in the final third was non-existent and the Red Devils never posed any real threat.
However, Fernandes was positive with and without the ball and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy with what he saw from the Portuguese international on his first outing.
His 44 passes in the final third showed his desire to get on the ball and make things happen. United fans will be delighted with his appetite to create but he was missing the necessary support around him to cause any real problems.
Anthony Martial was poor once again and Dan James’ bad spell continued as United failed to find a spark. The build-up was all too slow and when Fernandes did get on the ball, he had a lack of runners in behind.
He definitely looked more comfortable in the second half when he dropped slightly deeper and drove forward with the ball rather than receiving it with his back to goal. This allowed him to display a greater range of passing and fire shots from outside the box.
No player on the pitch had more shots on target than the midfielder and he was a constant threat from range, something that United have been missing with the absence of Marcus Rashford.
Bruno Fernandes’ game by numbers vs. Wolves:
• 88 passes (most on the pitch)
• 44 final 1/3 passes (most on the pitch)
• 5 shots (most on the pitch)
• 5 tackles (3rd most from midfield)
• 3 shots OT (most on the pitch)
A constant threat from range. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/CXEPr0SlKC
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 1, 2020
It was far from the perfect performance from the debutant and United but Fernandes showed some of the things that the Reds have been missing with Paul Pogba’s injury problems keeping him sidelined.
He was constantly looking to pass forward and threaded numerous balls into the box which could be the key to unlocking deep defences – something which United have failed to do consistently this campaign.
In the first half alone, Fernandes passed five times into the opposition box, more than any other player. This intent hasn’t been shown by any other midfielder on a regular basis and is something which should provide United a greater opportunity to break down teams.
How would United’s midfield look with everyone fit?
United’s injury list has been a problem all season, especially with midfielders. Scott McTominay had come on leaps and bounds before his injury setback and arguably United’s only world-class player Pogba has only been available for a handful of games.
Luckily for United fans, Fred has stepped up and improved massively and Nemanja Matic has provided some necessary experience in tricky games.
All United fans will be desperate to see Fernandes and Pogba on the pitch together and they could form a formidable midfield with a more defensive-minded player between them. With McTominay splitting the two playmakers, United’s midfield should be far more capable of dominating the lesser sides and creating more chances.
On the other hand, against the bigger sides, it might leave them defensively exposed and we could see one of them dropped to make way for Fred or Matic to sure up the defence.
Either way, the signing from Sporting Lisbon has given Solskjaer much more flexibility in the team with plenty of options once their other midfielders return from injury.
United fans will be desperate for Fernandes to make an instant impact and the leadership qualities we saw against Wolves combined with his tenacious attitude and flair give him every chance of succeeding at Old Trafford.