Fernandes can offer United leadership sorely missing against Burnley

Bruno Fernandes was rightly voted Man of the Match on his Manchester United debut.

In a drab game, he shone above any of his new team-mates and former Reds striker Danny Webber helped analyse his first runout on the club’s official website.

He was blown away by one attribute in particular and it was sorely lacking in the 2-0 loss against Burnley last month – leadership.

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What did Webber say?

Webber was full of praise for the midfielder and said: “I love this, this is one of my favourite things. He’s dictating, he’s telling Maguire where to play it.

“He’s demanding things from people, his head’s on the swivel all the time. He’s offering himself. He’s saying give it and go.

“He’s demanding from the players and, for me, that’s a massive, massive attribute when you’ve got someone like that dictating from the front.”

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United lacked that leadership against Burnley

Last month’s 2-0 home loss to Burnley felt like a nadir for Solskjaer, a point where the unrest at the club reached a new level.

As United tried to chase the game, there was a complete absence of ideas or a clear direction of how the Reds were going to go about it.

Another goalless outing – making it three Premier League games in a row without a goal – against Wolves shows those problems won’t go away overnight.

The appointment of Harry Maguire as captain is typical of the stereotype of leaders English football tends to have; a domestic player, towering in the air and someone who can organise from the back.

But it can’t just be the man wearing the armband who is a leader. Since Scott McTominay’s injury, United just look too quiet on the pitch, there aren’t enough characters.

Fernandes was captain of Sporting and already looks like he isn’t afraid to make his voice heard and can perhaps conduct operations from an attacking point of view.

United sorely needed that against Burnley – and in other losses this season – so the early signs are very good indeed.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.