Former United star Paul Ince has praised fellow midfielder Bruno Fernandes, saying that the Portuguese signing has made all the difference to the club’s fortunes during this disjointed season. Despite Sunday’s crushing defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, fans and pundits alike have been impressed by Fernandes’ form since he arrived at Old Trafford in January. In fact, that match marked his first loss since donning the red shirt.

Neck and neck on points, and with a game in hand over closest rivals Leicester City, United are within striking distance of the top four and a place in the Champions League. The arrival of Fernandes, who transferred at a cost of £50m from Sporting Lisbon, undoubtedly helped to improve United’s season dramatically.

It’s been a rocky year for sports fans, with many mourning the lack of fixtures. Now that the matches are back, sports betting revenues have recovered to almost normal levels, proving how much it has been missed. If you feel the need to brush up on your skills, you can consult the academic betting guide at Fernandes and his performances are certainly worth a punt – a bet on him scoring against Chelsea would take a bit of the sting out of the defeat.

Hitting the ground running
Ince’s comments, made during an interview with UK tabloid the Daily Star, point to the immediate impact that Fernandes had on his old club. Comparing his start with that of Paul Pogba, Ince said that Fernandes had hit the ground running, while Pogba took longer to settle in and make his mark.

From his position in midfield, Fernandes has scored eight times in twelve Premier League appearances. His presence has filled the gap left by Pogba’s injury-ridden season, and been central to the team’s resurgence after last season’s disappointing finish. According to Ince, Fernandes is the name that all the fans should be singing about.

Exciting times for United
Ince also addressed transfer rumours, citing the names of youngsters Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho. Both currently with Bundesliga sides, the two are also talented midfielders and would add to what Ince describes as United’s ‘solid nucleus’.

At the same time, Ince speculated about whether Solskjær would be letting go of former golden boy Pogba, should the club need some cash to aid in its new acquisitions. Pogba has so far proven to play well with his new teammate, but he’s sure to be aware that he’s no longer the main man on the squad.

The season being severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the sale value of most players is expected to take a considerable hit. Ince reckons that Pogba’s value may have dropped from a high of £90m to £60m or less.

Despite the recent turbulence, Ince says that Fernandes has helped to solidify Solskjær’s position at United. Where there was talk of a move by former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, this is starting to fade away as the season progresses. If Fernandes and the rest of the lads continue this form, Solskjær’s job should be safe for the time being.

FA Cup woes
Coming into Sunday’s FA Cup showdown with Chelsea, fans had their title hopes dashed when the Londoners broke United’s 19-match winning streak. Even a late penalty from Fernandes was of little comfort, in a game marked by costly errors.

Goalie David de Gea’s two mistakes, coupled with an own goal from captain Harry Maguire, added up to a miserable day for United. Commentators have criticised Solskjær’s decision to leave Pogba, Martial and Greenwood on the bench, saying that Fernandes was left unsupported in midfield, and that the team lacked a convincing attack.

However, despite this late mishap, United can be proud of their season and hopeful for the future. Solskjær is gaining confidence in his role, Sunday’s team selection misstep notwithstanding. The signing of Fernandes proved to be inspired, and with the transfer window opening imminently, fans will be eager to see what the Norwegian does next.