The last two games and impending international break mounted pressure. A loss today might have been the start of rumblings for the Norwegian manager but as so is often the case with his tenure, when one foot seems out the door, the players drag him back in. The goal from Bernard spelled doom but Fernandes’ header soon after settled nerves. From then on, it became a bit of a procession to the three points. A cross from Fernandes crept in at a back post to get his second and the Portuguese was involved again, as he set up Cavani for his first goal in the red of Manchester United.
Death, Taxes and Fernandes FPL Points
It’s an inevitability that opponents just can’t seem to contain. They call it the hallmark of champions when you are able to pick up points in games where you are not playing particularly well. Bruno Fernandes manages to be a microcosmic example on this. His influence since his arrival cannot be understated. The numbers speak from themselves. The juxtaposition of United prior and post his signature from Sporting Lisbon cannot be ignored. But in recent weeks, the performances from the Portuguese have not been to a standard befitting of a player of his quality. And even when he hasn’t been bad, his work in his general play has not been anything special. What has been special is his reliability of producing time and time again, by hook or by crook. It has mostly been from set pieces, goalscoring in the main from penalties invariably won by one Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford, and assisting wonder goals or again, from set pieces. It became a sticking point for many as you cannot leave out such a player who comes up with the goods but can be so detrimental in the approach play with loose passing and bad decision making. But today was nothing like that. For the first time in a while, the £45m was splendid in all aspects of the game. The penchant to concede turnovers repeatedly with passes that are never on was cut loose. The touches, one especially where he velvety let the ball succumb to his foot’s control drawing a foul, were sharp. His movement, mostly to our left hand side, combining with Shaw and Rashford on more than one occasion. In fact, those two Englishman were involved in one way or another in the two goals that Fernandes scored. It was a lovely cross from Shaw that Bruno was able to run onto and glance into the far post, the former getting another assist from a cross after hardly doing so prior to this season. The second was a 1-2, after Rashford was found in a mountain of space in between the lines. Fernandes hung out on left wing, to which he swung a delicate cross into Rashford. The attempted header was missed but the cross kissed the inside of the post before crossing the line. The other side of his game can never be put into question, he runs as hard as he can and tracks back doggedly, sometimes not in keeping with team shape, but not the case today. It was an impressive performance and should be the benchmark for the standards he can reach regularly. With many, it is about adding productivity to their general play. For Bruno, it’s the opposite and hopefully a balance he can find.
There were many places in the team that we needed reinforcements in before many would have thought of left back but United went to buy there in the summer with Alex Telles. In a story as old as time, an incoming player fires a rocket up the backside of the current incumbent of the starting position, which is Luke Shaw. As aforementioned, it was a second assist from a cross in as many games. But in general, his link up play down the left was good. The threat of Coleman down his side was not as much as one would usually expect, a foul in the first half being one of the few times the Irishman managed to get any change out of him. The issues were still there with his movement to open up the space for the winger on his side as often he crept around rather than raced when giving an outside option. But in the a story as old as Shaw’s time at United, an increase in form was met with an injury that sent him off as Axel Tuanzebe came in to replace him. Hopefully, it is something minor but there is reinforcement there with the Brazilian LB, who will be back from COVID once the international break is done
It was quite a contrasting display at the back with the centre backs. Dominic Calvert Lewin only managed to work his way into the game whenever he played on Lindelof and Wan Bissaka’s side, as his physicality in the air is quite the antithesis to the Swede’s meekness. The goal came from a long punt up top and Calvert Lewin winning a header against Lindelof. Beside him though, Maguire was good and then got even better in the second half. He probably should have had a penalty and perhaps would have conceded one if not for an offside call. He cleared all as the Evertonians piled on the pressure and his interception was key in the goal that sealed the victory right at the end.
Martial seems to be mirroring United’s home and away form but doing so with his performances in Europe and the league. 2 goals from 3 in the Champions but his fourth game without a in the league, 6 if you stretch back to last season. His hold up play was pretty decent, the rest was poor and should have had one when he snatched at a chance earlier on. Taken off with 10 mins to spare, a goal needs to come quick if the Frenchman wants to continue keeping his place