Manchester United’s 11-match unbeaten run ensured that they went into the enforced break in good spirits with Premier League wins over Chelsea and Manchester City improving the mood dramatically. This was by far the best run of form that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had enjoyed since being given the job on a permanent basis over a year ago.
The upturn in fortunes coincided with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes – still unbeaten in a United shirt – but nobody inside or outside the club really thinks that is a coincidence.
His impact has been swift and significant.
Fernandes has already been compared to Paul Scholes, although the United legend himself does not agree with that – pointing to his own “useless” free-kick taking as a key point of difference.
In truth, they are very different players but just nine games into his United career there is a sense that Fernandes shares that ability to bring the best out in others.
“He has made players around him better,” Ryan Giggs told Sky Sports. “He has given everyone a lift. The players around him, the staff, the fans. He has just fitted in straight away which is what you always pray for when a new signing comes in. He is a Manchester United player in the sense that he receives the ball and he is exciting … He is brilliant to watch.”
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June 19, 2020, 8:00pm
Solskjaer is entitled to believe that he has hit upon something. Fernandes’ arrival has changed the balance of United’s midfield for the better. There is a more penetration now but the manager has been able to maintain a solid structure behind the Portuguese.
United have conceded only one goal with Fernandes on the pitch and that was a dreadful individual error by David de Gea at Everton rather than any issue over the team’s shape.
The aggregate score with Fernandes in play is 14-1. Something has been going very right.
And yet, it seems inevitable that Solskjaer must risk tweaking that again in order to take Manchester United to the next level. He must try to find a way to reintroduce Paul Pogba.