It is a marker of Bruno Fernandes’ importance to Manchester United already that he wasn’t given the night off against Derby County last night.
United should really have enough in the squad to see off the Championship’s 13th-placed side without Fernandes, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly didn’t want to take any chances.
It was not the best performance Fernandes has delivered in red but he showed his class despite being replaced not long past the hour mark.
Still providing key passes
As per WhoScored, Fernandes still provided four key passes in his 66 minutes last night.
That’s more than any other United player despite the fact he did not quite hit the heights he had done in previous games.
A pass completion rate of 70.7 per cent, way down on his midfield colleagues suggests he was willing to try ambitious passes, but they weren’t quite coming off.
That’s what United have needed though, someone who takes risks and tries to make things happen, rather than keeping the ball moving against a deep defence who can deal with that quite easily.
Fernandes will eventually need a rest
The difference in the United side with and without Fernandes in it is so marked that Solskjaer will be tempted to play him every time he’s available.
But if United go the distance in the Europa League and the FA Cup, that’s a lot of games for a player who is still adjusting to English football to play.
Solskjaer may need to manage the player carefully to avoid another situation like Marcus Rashford’s, where an accumulation of matches pushed his back injury too far.
Fernandes’ ability to influence matches even when not at his best is a real boost to Solskjaer, but he needs to manage the midfielder responsibly.