When the UEFA Euro 2020 kicked off, the Portuguese held high hopes and expectations from midfield maestro Bruno Fernandes, especially after a stellar season with British giants Manchester United. Many fans were also anticipating a dream link-up between Fernandes and Football’s greatest goalscorer ever, Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, things didn’t go exactly as planned and the United playmaker had to drop out of the starting 11 after just two games. With just 4 shots, 0 dribbles and 37 passes per 90 mins, it is not hard to see why.
In this article, we will take a look at the potential causes behind the dismaying performances of Fernandes and why it turned out to be a flop show for him.
On the back of a hectic season with Man Utd, we likely saw a fatigued Fernandes at the Euros. He spent 3015 minutes on the pitch, more than any other player in the league. This is excluding other competitions like the Carabao Cup, Europa League, FA Cup in which Fernandes featured extensively as well. Including all competitions takes the figure up to 4584 minutes. Despite an impressive 28 goals and 17 assists in all competitions, Fernandes registered only 4 goal involvements in the last 12 games of the Premier League. Hence, the theory behind ‘burnout’ seems extremely possible.
Moreover, Bruno was never the leader figure in the national team, unlike at United. With Portugal, he was surrounded by experienced professionals like Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Pepe and Joao Moutinho. At United, Fernandes has had the opportunity to nurture young talent like Rashford, Greenwood, Daniel James et cetera. One can argue that this aspect played into the confidence of the midfielder because of which he couldn’t bring out his best. It is possible that Fernandes did not get the freedom which he gets at United due to the structure of the national team
It is also not wrong to deduce that Portugal at the moment holds a deeper and stronger squad than Manchester United. Fernandes’ spot with the reds was always guaranteed, especially in big games. However, the motivation of young players like Renato Sanches to perform well for their nation added to the competition for the starting 11. It is also worth mentioning that the pedigree of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo might also have cast a shadow on Fernandes. Three penalty kicks at United would have meant a typical hob, skip and jump Bruno goal, however, with Portugal, it would never be a question of who’s going to slam the ball home.
Jose Mourinho was quick to speak about Fernandes’ poor showing at the euros, saying that he was “missing” in the first two games. However, the veteran manager certainly didn’t rule out the incredible potential Fernandes possesses.
Two disappointing international outings don’t define Fernandes’ ability, and we expect him to bounce back in the new season