Bruno Fernandes played a staggering 73 games in 2021: Cut him some slack

It’s impossible to ignore a drop off in Bruno Fernandes’ form for Manchester United lately, culminating in a highly disappointing performance away at Newcastle.

Fernandes was one of the culprits as United frequently gave the ball away, and he picked up a booking in the process, causing a suspension, which actually came as a welcome relief for all concerned.

To criticise Fernandes for his form is missing the point. He has been staggeringly overused for club and country over the past 12 months.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Scary numbers

Fernandes played a total of 73 games for club and country in 2021, not including the one pre-season friendly he also appeared in for United.

This averages out at one game every five days across the entire 12 months with no break.

Fernandes played 58 Manchester United games, more than any other Red Devils player, plus a further 15 matches for Portugal, missing just one international match.

It is no wonder that the £67 million signing‘s form has begun to drop off through sheer exhaustion, mental and physical.

United must manage Fernandes more carefully

The blame for Fernandes’ exhaustion lies principally with former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who refused to rest him.

There was one instance last season where United had a 4-0 first leg lead over Real Sociedad in the Europa League and Fernandes was still picked to start the second leg.

Then this season after convincing Jesse Lingard to stay in the summer, Solskjaer still started Fernandes in every league game.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Ralf Rangnick used a 4-4-2 system against Burnley which actually cut out the need for Fernandes’ role, and United can quite easily adapt to this more often and give the number 18 a rest.

Young star Hannibal would love the opportunity to step up after the AFCON, while Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek can also step in for Fernandes in the 4-2-2-2 even if Lingard and Juan Mata are moved on.

Fernandes is a special talent who United have not looked after optimally. He deserves some slack, and hopefully he will be back to his very best soon.

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