Man Utd: Are they over-reliant on Bruno Fernandes?
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With Manchester United losing to Wolves, being outplayed by their opponents in the process, Ralf Rangnick is in a difficult position. Benching Bruno Fernandes has done him no favours, either. And with the midfielder seemingly the odd one out at Old Trafford these days, it’ll be fascinating to see how things unfold.
Manchester United were without Fernandes for Thursday’s 3-1 win over Burnley, with Scott McTominay and Cristiano Ronaldo shining in the absence of the 27-year-old.
So there was logic to Rangnick’s decision to leave the Portugal international on the bench for the match with Wolves on Monday.
Ultimately, that decision backfired on a chastening night of action at Old Trafford. The Red Devils were dire, dreadful and downright shambolic throughout, even once their No 18 entered the fray.
At least with Fernandes on the pitch, however, United looked more creative. As though they might at least muster a shot on target.
They’re still poor. Hopes were, when Rangnick took charge, the German could turn the crisis at Old Trafford around.
After five games, that clearly isn’t the case. Performances have been dreadful, a good 45 minutes against Crystal Palace in his opening fixture aside.
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We’re not buying that United were great in their 3-1 victory over Burnley, either. Individual moments of brilliance, from McTominay and Ronaldo, gave them the three points they wanted.
Now, to make matters worse, Rangnick has an issue with Fernandes on his hands.
Dropping a player who has arguably been the club’s best since the days Sir Alex Ferguson ruled the roost is a bold strategy. As mentioned above, it didn’t pay off.
With the midfielder yet to commit to a new contract, it’s possible it could even tip him over the edge.
Fernandes, when news of the European Super League broke in April, wanted to quit the Theatre of Dreams.
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That was reported by The Athletic in October, who revealed the Portugal international had seriously considered jumping ship.
Had the Glazers and Ed Woodward put their plan into action, the 27-year-old would be playing for a different club right now.
And with Fernandes not appearing to be in Rangnick’s plans for the foreseeable future, and his contract yet to be renewed, it’s possible there could be further storms ahead.
After all, Old Trafford is hardly the place to be right now.
From a footballing perspective, United are miles away from catching the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
They’re not amongst the favourites to win the Champions League, especially with a tricky tie against Atletico Madrid on the horizon.
And given they’ve won the FA Cup just once since Ronaldo headed them to glory in 2004, they’ll need to pull something out of the bag to triumph in that competition.
Then there’s the fact that many players are unhappy at the club, further disrupting the harmony.
Donny van de Beek would still ideally leave, despite Rangnick saying he wants the Netherlands international to stay.
It’s certainly understandable, with the Dutchman making just four Premier League starts since arriving from Ajax last year.
Anthony Martial is also eager to leave Old Trafford, having fallen down the pecking order ever since Ronaldo’s Hollywood homecoming.
Eric Bailly isn’t happy with his lack of action, under both Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
And there’s a growing sense Marcus Rashford may even prefer to be elsewhere, with the England international’s form getting worse with each passing game.
Fernandes has already wanted to leave United once.
Unless things change, it’s certainly possible he’ll have the same feelings in the coming weeks and months ahead.
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