Bruno Fernandes MUST be stripped of the Man Utd captaincy after sinking to Cristiano Ronaldo's level - his behaviour against Liverpool was a disgrace

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Bruno Fernandes Manchester United 2022-23
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Erik ten Hag needs to make an example of the Portugal midfielder after he treated the armband with disdain during Sunday's Anfield debacle

In times of trouble, a football team looks to its captain for a lift. Some support, a little leadership, a rallying cry. So imagine being a Manchester United player and seeing Bruno Fernandes' behaviour during Sunday's horrifying 7-0 defeat to Liverpool.

Amid the club's worst-ever Premier League result and joint-worst defeat in its history, Fernandes was moaning at everyone, from the officials to his team-mates.

He was constantly waving his arms about, not tracking back when Liverpool were destroying United on the break, and even pushed an assistant referee.

And worst of all, he appeared to ask to come off when Erik ten Hag instead substituted Marcus Rashford after the sixth Liverpool goal.

When the ship was sinking, Fernandes' priority was to get off, rather than help the team.

  1. 'Nothing short of disgraceful'
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    'Nothing short of disgraceful'

    Two former United captains, Gary Neville and Roy Keane, could only look on in horror as they covered the match for Sky Sports.

    "Fernandes' body language today was nothing short of disgraceful," said Keane. "A really talented boy, he's your captain, but his body language, waving his arms, not running back, you wouldn't be happy with him in your dressing room."

    Neville went further: "Bruno Fernandes is stood in the centre circle with his arms raised asking: ‘Why is it me not coming off?' Honestly, I have to say some of his behaviour in the second half has been a disgrace.

    "The second half has been an absolute disgrace, a shambles. Epitomised by no one more than the captain Bruno Fernandes, who I think has been embarrassing at times in this game."

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  2. The United armband is an honour
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    The United armband is an honour

    How exactly should Ten Hag deal with a situation like his captain making a mockery of his position? Take the captaincy off Fernandes immediately.

    Ten Hag has been strict but fair with his United players since taking charge, and, correctly, made an example of Cristiano Ronaldo when he refused to come on as a substitute against Tottenham earlier this season.

    Ronaldo's behaviour, when he left the stadium before full-time during a hugely impressive 2-0 win over a top opponent, was admittedly worse than Fernandes' actions at Anfield.

    The midfielder does not need to be forced to train alone, and he does not need to leave the club. When Fernandes is on form, he is one of the team's most important players.

    He is United's second-top scorer and second-top assist provider this season, and has been key to huge victories over Manchester City, Barcelona and Spurs. He has arguably been the club's most consistent player since he joined in January 2020.

    But the Manchester United armband should be an honour for whoever is blessed to wear it. It is too important to be treated with the disdain Fernandes showed it.

  3. The alternatives
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    The alternatives

    With first-choice captain Harry Maguire way down the pecking order in team selection, Fernandes is the club's de-facto skipper and he needs to be reminded of his responsibilities. Against Real Betis on Thursday, he cannot be wearing that armband.

    Who could take it instead?

    Why not Marcus Rashford? He is a born and bred United fan who grew up in the club's academy and showed true leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, embarrassing the country's elected representatives.

    If not Rashford, then Casemiro would be a decent second choice. His English might not be perfect, but the dressing room is multilingual any way, and he has utterly embraced United since joining.

    David de Gea is another strong choice, given he is the club's longest-serving player, the last survivor of the Sir Alex Ferguson era. He has grown into his position as a club servant, and last season routinely fronted up in post-match interviews after big defeats.

  4. Ten Hag's latest big call
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    Ten Hag's latest big call

    Ten Hag has taken many big decisions in his first season at the club, such as making the team run 14 kilometres after the 4-0 thrashing by Brentford, banishing Ronaldo from the squad and dropping Rashford to the bench against Wolves at Molineux after he was late for a team meeting.

    Now he must stamp his authority on Fernandes.

    Ten Hag reported at training ground at 7am post-Liverpool thrashing