Talking about new Manchester United signings from the 2019-20 season is interesting, trying to have a look back at everything certain player has done over a course of a year, putting that into perspective and then trying to evaluate it. But it is infinitely more fun to talk about the first half-season Bruno Fernandes has had at Old Trafford. It has been an incredibly bonkers and truly fun experience seeing Fernandes do so well so fast for Manchester United.
The Portuguese midfielder was mentioned in the conversation of becoming new Man United signing even last summer, but Ed Woodward was unable to do the deal then. He got James, Maguire and Wan-Bissaka, claiming that it is almost impossible to get more meaningful signings in a single transfer window. And whilst Chelsea of 2020 have proved that to be just an inaccurate take, Bruno Fernandes also proved that he was worth the wait.
Where to start, really? Bruno Fernandes has been the best impact player in the 2019-20 season at any Premier League club, it is that simple. There was no other player that joined a club ahead of, or during the 2019-20 season that has had such an immense impact on the way the entire team performed. Despite only playing 14 Premier League matches this season, Fernandes was hugely important.
His attacking qualities improved those around him, he was incisive, doing risky things and getting risky pay-offs on the pitch and he also scored eight goals and added seven assists. Sure, half of his goals were penalties but a) you still need to score them and b) Man United knew how to lose points when failing to convert them.
Fernandes was making 2.58 key passes per match, basically making things happen around him. In fact, his entire style of play was based around that – doing things that are bound to make things happen. They are often risky – either those throughballs or shots from tough positions – but when they come of, they can bring a lot to the team.
In fact, Bruno Fernandes was third in the entire Premier League last season in terms of goal creating actions per 90 minutes with 0.91 goal creating actions. The only two players that were ahead of him were also the only two players to reach at least 1.00 GCA – Riyad Mahrez with 1.39 and Kevin De Bruyne with 1.06 per 90. That is a good company to be in.
So Fernandes’ importance was instantly measurable by numbers, but the eye-test seemed to give even more in those terms. Fernandes seamlessly managed to get into the team and became the main player around which United were building their play. He instantly became one of the leaders of the team, at least on the pitch since that is what we are looking at here the most, and with his great performances results started improving too.
Now everyone is also happier, including Paul Pogba, and it seems like Bruno Fernandes could be a symbolic and also literal catalyst for Man United’s strides forward in the year coming up.