The comparisons are obvious but the importance of them should not be underestimated.
Bruno Fernandes was handed the number 18 shirt once made famous by Paul Scholes, and United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likened the new boy to the club legend immediately.
Solskjaer told The Guardian: “He is a goalscoring and assisting midfielder, a little bit like Paul Scholes. He can strike a ball fantastically. He has got such a wonderful technique but he also is going to get assists from set plays and from his range of passes.
“He is a similar type to Scholesy: fiery, passionate, hates losing and same number on the back of the shirt.”
In short, Fernandes is everything United need. Every element Solsjaer described, are qualities this United team lack.
His fiery side was seen on his debut as he picked up a booking in the draw with Wolves.
Scholes had everything
Comparisons are of course impossible to live up to. Scholes was arguably the best midfielder of his generation and has been talked up by his peers, Zinedine Zidane and Xavi.
His success was incredible, winning 11 Premier League medals, four FA Cups, two League Cups, and two Champions Leagues.
As a one club man, he racked up 718 appearances for United, which could have been even higher if not for a brief retirement.
We wrote earlier in the week how United’s failure to replace Cristiano Ronaldo is shown up regularly. It’s not easy to replace these incredible players, but like with Ronaldo, United did not try hard enough to find a Scholes replacement.
He retired in 2013 along with Sir Alex Ferguson and the club’s answer was to sign Maroune Fellaini.
Toni Kroos was a near miss the following year, he could have been the one we were looking for.
Ander Herrera signed instead, and while he showed some of the tenacious traits Scholes possessed, he was not the same complete player and nowhere near as good from an attacking perspective.
Sir Alex Ferguson once tipped Nick Powell to replace Scholes, telling The Guardian in 2012: “Powell is going to be a really good player who, we hope, will fill Paul Scholes’s boots in terms of he’s got terrific vision, good temperament, two great feet, is quick and is a great striker of the ball.”
Perhaps with Fergie managing him, Powell would have stood a chance, but he is now playing in the Championship with Stoke City.
Paul Pogba had the skillset to replicate Scholes. He lacks the fiery nature, and seemingly the drive to succeed. If he wants to leave the club, and there’s a good offer, few would stand in his way.
Players like Fernandes are hard to find, but it’s amazing it took United seven years to find a player with a real likeness to Scholes.
It will be very hard for the Portugal international to replicate the scale of success Scholes enjoyed, but the 25-year-old can have a huge career at Old Trafford.
His debut against Wolves showed a desire to get on the scoresheet, quality in possession, along with a willingness to drive the team forward and dictate play.
We are thankful United have signed Fernandes, and the key is to surround him with similar calibre talent.
While Scholes was a magnificent individual player, he was also surrounded by top class teammates. This summer United have to add a capable supporting cast around Fernandes, to really get the best out of him.
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