Manchester United FC

Bruno Fernandes needs to find form again to help Manchester United down the final stretch

Daniel Feliciano
Apr 2, 2021, 5:00 PM GMT+1
Fernandes has struggled recently but is still Manchester United's go-to man
Fernandes has struggled recently but is still Manchester United's go-to man | Pool/Getty Images

Whenever Manchester United score a goal, it's become quite normal to assume Bruno Fernandes either scored it or made it.

He has 23 goals this season in all competitions and 13 assists, more than anyone else this season in both departments for the club, and has been influential in carrying them to second place in the league as well as the Europa League quarter-finals.

Since signing for the club in January 2020, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue that he hasn't been United's best performing player. He won the fans' player of the year award for last season despite joining halfway through, and this year has picked up where he left off.

In the opening ten games of the season, Fernandes scored six goals and registered five assists. In the ten games following on from that, he scored seven goals and registered two assists. He then had a blip, where he scored three and assisted two in the next ten games - a period of games where United only won five out of ten.

He then found form once again, scoring six times and registering three assists in his next six games as United won four out of six, including the record 9-0 win over Southampton and the impressive 4-0 win over Real Sociedad in the Europa League.

Since then however, Fernandes has gone cold once more with just one goal and one assist in his next eight fixtures for the club. The Reds have won just three of those eight games, proving that when Fernandes isn't firing on all cylinders, the whole team struggles.

Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes leads the way for goals and assists for Manchester United this season | Pool/Getty Images

If United are to go all the way in the Europa League as they are expected to, they will have 15 games left to play this season. They still must play Tottenham, Leeds United, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Leicester and Wolves in the Premier League, while a two-legged tie with Granada will be followed by a two-legged tie against either Roma or Ajax if they are successful.

With so many big games left to play, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to need his best players at the peak of their powers, and none more so than Fernandes.

When he is on song, there is nobody more influential. He sets the tempo of the attacks, he creates more chances than anyone else and he scores goals. On top of that, he works relentlessly in defensive phases and covers more ground than anyone else in the team too.

The rest of the season cannot be placed upon his shoulders entirely though - he needs support. The return to fitness of Paul Pogba will be a huge help, while Marcus Rashford's form has been good for the most part this season also.

Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes
Fernandes and Pogba can lead Man Utd to glory | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial need to quickly find form again if United are to finish strongly too, but Fernandes' form should be the first port of call for the manager to address.

The 26-year-old should find himself well rested now after only playing in two of Portugal's March internationals, and should be fresh going into this final stretch.

It's clear as day that Manchester United know how to get the best out of Fernandes and they know how to get results, having lost just four of their last 30 games in all competitions. But they need their best players performing to really get the job done.

Only Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah have scored more than Fernandes, and only Kane and Kevin De Bruyne have more assists in the Premier League this season. If he is to catch them, then United will have a far better chance of doing well in the final stretch of the campaign.