The problem with Fernandes' debut, why it had to happen, what we learned

Bruno Fernandes earned the Man of the Match Award on his debut for United against Wolves.

He had more touches, passes, and shots than any player on the pitch.

But there was one big complaint with his debut, and it was not his fault, it was that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was playing him too deep.

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

What happened?

Fernandes for much of the game ended up playing as a more withdrawn central midfielder, rather than the attacking number 10 United bought him to be.

This prevented him from getting close to striker Anthony Martial, who had no shots, while Fernandes did not create any chances, a real rarity for him.

Instead Andreas Pereira played further forward, and was ineffective. Some felt Pereira and Fernandes should have switched roles.

Why did this happen?

United were put in a tough spot by Nemanja Matic’s red card against Manchester City, with Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba both out injured.

Fernandes was simply viewed as more trustworthy than Pereira in the more deeper role, by Solskjaer.

Pereira has struggled against top flight opposition in central midfield this season.

Against Sheffield United he was terrible and cost the team a goal in the 3-3 draw earlier in the season.

United did sacrifice some of Fernandes’ attacking qualities, but Solskjaer played it safe, rather than risk Pereira being exposed against a duo of Ruven Neves and Joao Moutinho.

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

What did we learn?

Fernandes proved he is more than a 10. Like Paul Scholes, he can play deeper and get stuck in if he needs to.

His willingness to tackle was encouraging, he will not be bothered by the physical challenge of the Premier League. He was put straight in at the deep end, and did well.

Matic will be back to partner Fred in United’s next game, and Fernandes will have a more unrestricted attacking role. Pereira will probably be on the bench.

This was a ‘safe’ selection from Solskjaer, and it showed he knew he could not risk another home defeat – which would have been more likely if Pereira was Fred’s midfield partner.

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