Bruno Fernandes Hits Back at Critics of His Big Game Performances


On the eve of the Manchester derby, United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has hit back at those who say he doesn’t show up in big games. United, as a team, have been utterly dreadful against the rest of the big six this season, scoring just one goal and winning none in six previous tries (1L5D).

Critics of Fernandes point out that most of his goals come from penalties, as if those actually “don’t count,” as the Portugese magnifico alluded to in his remarks.

Manchester Derby FYIs

Kickoff: 5:30 GMT, Sun Mar 7, City of Manchester Stadium

TV: NBCSN (US), Sky Sports (UK)

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The one goal that United scored came from a Fernandes penalty in the 6-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur.

“I don’t know what people mean by ‘top six’, because the teams are in top six in the table,” Fernandes said in an interview with Sky Sports.

“I score and assist against some of them. I score this season against Tottenham. But some people say penalties don’t count! I know people expect Bruno to score or assist in every game because when I arrived, I was playing really well.

“If you see my stats, everyone is thinking that Bruno has to score in every game, Bruno has to assist in every game.

“And I want to do that – it’s the most important thing. But as a player, I don’t look for the big six or the rest of the league. I look for every game in the same way. And I think the league is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So you don’t have to score or win against the big six — you have to score and win against everyone.”

Fernandes’ comments echo remarks made earlier this weekend by his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who responded to those who say United play too conservative in games against the rest of the big six.

No one can deny how much Fernandes means to United. It’s scary to think of where they would be without their best player and top scorer. However, Fernandes also brought up those who only care about statistics, and only judge footballers based on the most observable and well known stats.

“I see people talking about Bruno not doing so well against the ‘big six.’ People have said Bruno gives the ball away too many times when we lose a game,” he continued.

“Also, in the game against [Istanbul] Basaksehir, I scored two goals and I lost more balls than their team, but people said I was the best player in the game. So, what is the point?”

“I saw an interview from Luke [Shaw] saying, ‘people now care more about stats than the performance.’ And this is the truth. Because now they’re expecting from me just goals and assists, and not performances.

He makes a lot of great points, especially in this day and age, when more people follow the game based on metrics that relate to fantasy, daily fantasy and betting. These are the more boolean values, the numerical standards that even casual fans know and evaluate.

Fernandes is speaking here about the more added subtleties and nuances of the game, the complexities that only hard core football aficianados get into.

Of course, if he brings it tomorrow, and United end City’s record setting win streak, it will certainly quite the critics.

At this point though, a draw won’t cut it, especially if it’s goalless. Given the current mood that many of the United supporters are in right now, in relation to the team, they have to take all three points at the Etihad.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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