Bruno Fernandes overtakes Cristiano Ronaldo in goal contributions for 2021/22

Bruno Fernandes’ return to form has been well timed. The Manchester United star scored twice against Aston Villa at the weekend and then turned provider, with two assists against Brentford.

This surge in productivity have given his numbers for the season a boost, and see him overtake teammate Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since the forward overtook him in September.

Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Two key contributors

Both players, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo have been United’s most consistent players. While far from perfect, they have been the team’s most consistent sources of goals. Here is a look at how the numbers break down.

Bruno Fernandes: 7 goals, 11 assists: 18 total

Cristiano Ronaldo: 14 goals, 3 assists: 17 total

Ronaldo is a far more consistent goalscorer, while Fernandes is United’s chief creative force. They probably have not combined enough together, considering their potential, but so long as at least one of them are chipping in United are getting by. When they do click together, the side can really kick on.

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It’s important to note Fernandes has had a little headstart on Ronaldo, scoring a hat-trick on the first day of the season against Leeds when his teammate was still at Juventus.

Ronaldo quickly caught Fernandes’ goals, scoring four goals in his first three games, during which time Fernandes had also scored another, before Ronaldo added several more.

Fernandes did not score another until December, before his recent brace against Villa. A penalty miss against Villa in September was costly to Fernandes, and beneficial to Ronaldo, who has taken over spot-kick duties. He has scored two penalties among his 14 goals.

Last season Fernandes scored a staggering 28 goals. He won’t get to that number again, but it won’t be long until he reaches double figures, and don’t discount a late season surge and him reaching the 20 mark.

He is on course to better last season’s tally of 18 assists, already more than than halfway there.

Key to Fernandes success

Part of the key to Bruno Fernandes’ recent improvement is the tactical tweaks Ralf Rangnick has been making to the midfield.

Rangnick told his press conference he wants Fernandes in a number 8 role and not a 10, explaining: “Most of the top teams in Europe and England play in a 4-3-3. I think for (Bruno), it is better than being pinned to a ten position. He can then make himself available in different areas of the pitch, not only the centre.

“For me, he’s not a wing player but in this position as an eight, he can find the spaces himself and sniff in which areas we have to play the ball to him and he can make himself available. Therefore, I think this position as an eight is almost perfect for him.”

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Ronaldo will be back

Fernandes has his work cut out to stay ahead of Ronaldo. The number 7 has not scored yet in 2022, and a splurge of goals is surely coming. He scored 47 times for club and country in the calendar year of 2021.

Ronaldo will be keen to make up for lost time after missing a couple of games, and was annoyed to be substituted early against Brentford. He’s a goalscorer, so his frustration was understandable.

With 14 goals already, while missing the first month of the season, Ronaldo may fancy his chances of getting towards the 30 goal mark. His three assists have helped too, and that figure will grow as the season goes on too.

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