As football games go, it was one of the worst you will see. However, this time last year, Garnacho was able to win it in the last embers of the game. In fact, it was 357 days ago. Today, Bruno Fernandes followed suit as he struck into the bottom corner. I’d rather forget the game if I am being honest but at the point we are at, results are all that matters. Hopefully, a head of steam can finally be built up but I am not so sure.
The more United’s situation looks bleaker, the more attentions turns to the manager. In the end, the age old problem of it being easier to replace one man than the whole collection of players rings true more often than not and that’s why a bad run of form continuing will eventually lead to the Dutchman losing his job, no matter how heavy the financial burden would be for the club.
However, just looking at the collection of players that have been assembled, you begin to wonder how exactly a manager is supposed to coax more out of them when this is perhaps the most talentless set of players to be seen at United for as long as I can remember. Ten Hag is not faultless in this but the gradual degradation of the quality in the players for the past 5 years has been quite harrowing.
United fans have found themselves in this position before with plenty of managers now and often, there has been enough talent in there to suggest the successor might be able to build a functioning team out of the bones the predecessor left. Now? The manager coming in would not have much at all to work with. Outside of Rashford and the potential of few fledgling players on the cusp of the squad, this is a team incredibly dearth of consistent and well rounded quality.
A microcosmic representation of that is Bruno Fernandes. You’d think a man making his 200th appearance, with 66 goals and 55 assists as an attacking midfielder, the captain of the football club no less, would have been able to establish himself as the light within the darkness that the Red Devils constantly drag their fans and viewers through.
On commentary, Matt Holland said that he often plays quickly when he is under pressure and he would like him to take a touch when he is under pressure. Unfortunately, Bruno has a better assessment of his capabilities than the ex-Charlton midfielder does. The Portuguese international knows that the more touches he takes under pressure, the likelihood increases of him losing the ball. He doesn’t have the technical or physical ability to withstand anything of that sort.
This is one of the players that is supposed to give those occasions of ingenuity that carry us through. However, that is more an indictment on United. Hojlund came off without a goal again in the Premier League and that is concerning. Yet, the service into him was absolutely dire and Bruno was culpable of the misplaced passes more often than not. The connection between the two has not even simmered and it is not from a lack of trying with the Dane. Rashford has been able to on multiple occasions, even if it hasn’t borne the best fruit.
Then, in stoppage time, a game that was without quality for much of it, a combination of loose touches from Tim Ream, Joao Palhinha, Antony Martial, Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellistri fell to Bruno Fernandes and he managed to settle the ball down, chop back onto his favoured right foot and dig out a shot with enough power that Leno wasn’t able to keep it out. What Fernandes is able to conjure up is just bleak magic and it matches the team right now. It is not enough for what is required but it might alleviate some eyes from the manager.
As starting XIs go, that is up there with some of the most uninspiring for Man Utd I have seen. The line up in fact matched the performance because against a Fulham team who are having much of the same troubles we have, it made up for an extremely difficult watch. Varane continued on the bench, Amrabat seems to have lost his place to the player that he was supposed to replace in McTominay. It stunk of a manager wanting to rely on stoicism and sturdiness rather than trying to progress any philosophy that he spoke defensively about in his press conference. In the end the win came but it is really looking like Ten Hag is on tender hooks.
Antony. Antony. Antony. Even as someone who was not enamoured by the signing in the first place and has been proven right so far, performances like today are so far below the level that he is well within his rights to lose his place in the team when he is in competition with no one. £86 million has been flushed down the toilet with that signing.