Manchester United have defeated Istanbul Basaksehir in the fourth round of Champions League group stage, registering their third win in a row in all competitions. That makes the feeling around the team much better than just three weeks ago, when it was two consecutive losses, to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, which made the mood around the club gloomy. Man United are slowly getting their consistency back, but for that to truly be the case, winning streak should not end at ‘three’.
The next game will be on Sunday against Southampton, at St Mary’s. That will be challenge in itself, but the fact that Man United have won three games in a row will not mean much. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should not forget just how fast things have been changing at Man United in the past year and a half, how often his team would be going from really, really good to making everything feel destined to fall apart.
During all of these recent matches in which Man United’s attack has functioned, one man has been instrumental. Bruno Fernandes has made his mark on this 2020 at Old Trafford in a way probably no one at the club expected. His arrival from Sporting Lisbon has been instrumental in Man United finishing third in the league and reaching Champions League football, and now he has been instrumental in most of Man United’s victories this season.
While that is great and Fernandes deserves all the credit – which he is more and more getting in the media – it is not something which should let anyone at the club relax for a moment. In fact, Fernandes, in all his brilliance this season, is a good reminder that he is the only such player in this squad. That is why the rest of the team must keep working hard and Solskjaer must find new solutions how to make his team unpredictable.
Amazing Output, But…
Bruno has scored six and assisted three goals in eight matches in the league. He scored three and assisted another one in four Champions League appearances. He also scored one goal off the bench in League Cup. But whenever his performances this season have not been so great, United’s attack has not been great either.
That is because Fernandes’ role in this team is very predictable, no matter how unpredictable the player himself is on the pitch. Teams know Bruno is United’s designated number 10 and, more importantly than that, they know he is their primary player for making things happen on the pitch. Stop him and opposition sides than have to work against Rashford, Martial and potentially some other players like Greenwood, Mata or even Pogba from deep areas. That is much easier for them.
Man United Must Keep Evolving
That is why Man United must keep evolving – Rashford and Martial must find ways how to create more for others from wider areas, but also how to be constant threat in and around the box. The midfielders must keep varying their game, especially in possession and that is something the Devils have been lacking in recent years, usually choosing shuttlers rather than incisive passers. Pogba does not really count here, considering how often he has not been playing and how inconsistent his performances have been over the years.
Bruno Fernandes is amazing and we hope he keeps scoring for fun, but Manchester United must be less reliant on his displays and more able to count on all attacking players, to keep rivals guessing.