It is time for us to speak about Bruno Fernandes! We continue our season ending reviews, taking a closer look at the campaigns Manchester United players had during the 2020/21 season. Next up for taking a look at is the Portuguese star, who has been brilliant ever since joining Man United from Sporting Lisbon in early 2020. After making the entire Premier League speak about him last summer during the ending part of the last season, Fernandes has continued to be very important for the way United play. His personality and character have proven to give a lot to this young team, with Fernandes never being satisfied his or his teammates’ performances.
That has obviously been commendable, but let’s see how he did this past season.
Bruno Fernandes has played 58 matches for Man United last season, scoring 28 and assisting another 17. That is a combined goal contribution of 45 goals across around 4500 minutes spent on the pitch. That paints a good picture of how important he has been for this team. He made it into double digits in both categories in the Premier League, ending the campaign with 18 goals and 11 assists. Sure, a big chunk of all of these goals came from the penalty spot, but nevertheless, United got themselves a truly reliable penalty taker and fans were able to relax for the before Fernandes would put the ball on the penalty spot.
Still, let’s have a look at his number where penalties are not included – they are still amazing. Looking at underlying metrics, Fernandes was incredible in terms of chance creation, shot making and number of progressive passes made per 90 minutes. He was in the 99th percentile in terms of passes attempted per 90 minutes and in 98th percentile among attacking midfielders in terms of expected assists (0.34 per 90) and progressive passes made (6.6 per 90 minutes). That means Bruno is basically the best player in his position in the Premier League in these statistical categories. He was also making staggering 20.82 pressures per match, a huge number for a player in his position, showing he is not just a very technical creative player, but also a hardworker who can offer plenty to this team when he is off the ball. If United are to be a better and more productive pressing side, in Fernandes they would have a really good player to work on that.
Bruno Fernandes has had a truly great season which could have been made even better if there were not spells of his campaign when he looked unable to make impact. Fernandes would often have not so good games which he would somehow end with a goal despite it, usually from the spot, and the perception of his performance would thus change. Nevertheless, Fernandes has proven he is the player this team should built around and with him yet to enter the peak years of his career, we believe there will be even better performances to come from him. It would also suit Fernandes very well if United were to become a team that would rely less on his brilliance and be able to be dangerous even when he is not at the centre of attention.