Fernandes the key to top-four success for United

Manchester United
Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes once again showed his importance to Manchester United as they beat Manchester City on Sunday.

Fernandes has been a revelation for United since making the switch from Sporting Lisbon in a fee which could reportedly rise to £67.6million.

It looks like small change when considering the impact he has had on United’s performances over the past month.

United officially confirmed the deal on January 29 but were doubts over whether it would happen as the two clubs struggled to agree on a fee.

The Red Devils first opened talks with Sporting over the summer but decided against following through and negotiations re-opened in January.

It’s understood that Fernandes was desperate to link up with United and his exploits in Portugal made the move almost inevitable.

He netted 20 times in the league last season and departed the Portuguese outfit with 64 goals in 137 appearances across all competitions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quick to praise Fernandes’ work ethic after he hit the training pitches alone just moments after his introductory club photoshoot.

His debut came just three days after the deal was announced and, although United played out a goalless draw with Wolves, Fernandes was already starting to show his class.

The 25-year-old already boasts three goals in eight appearances across all competitions, while he has chipped in with three assists.

Top-class players don’t need time to settle, despite moving country, and Fernandes is proving that he is of that quality.

United fans have unsurprisingly taken to him quickly and he looks capable of guiding the club into the top four this season.

Sunday’s 2-0 win over Manchester City was arguably the biggest test for Fernandes but he looked comfortable at the Theatre of Dreams.

Indeed, his quick thinking led to the opening goal of the game as he chipped a free kick into the box, catching City by surprise, and Anthony Martial applied the finishing touch.

All appears to be rosy for United at present and the protests, which were growing towards the board prior to Fernandes’ arrival, have subsided as they continue to charge up the table.

United are unbeaten in eight games across all competitions since Fernandes pulled on the shirt and Sunday’s victory keeps them just three points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.

From the outside, United have clearly lacked creativity in the middle third for a long time – Paul Pogba’s time out injured hasn’t helped resolve that issue – but Fernandes seems to be the answer.

With nine games left to play in the Premier League this season, United’s chances of earning a top-four berth look positive and, if they manage to pull it off, Fernandes, who has been named PFA player of the month for February, will be the man to thank.