Erik ten Hag hails new Bruno Fernandes 'dictator' role for Man Utd after 'brilliant game on the ball' against Brentford

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Erik ten Hag hailed the efforts of Bruno Fernandes in a new “dictator” role that has him operating as a deep-lying playmaker for Manchester United.
  • Portuguese star normally fills No.10 berth
  • Has been dropped a little deeper of late
  • Remains a talismanic presence for Red Devils

WHAT HAPPENED? The Portugal international midfielder has grown accustomed to filling a No.10 berth for the Red Devils, allowing him to impact proceedings higher up the field. He has thrived in that post, registering 60 goals and 51 assists for United. Fernandes has, however, dropped a little deeper of late – as he becomes more involved in build-up play – and Ten Hag has been impressed by the 28-year-old in meetings with Southampton and Brentford.

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WHAT THEY SAID: United’s boss said of Fernandes following a 1-0 victory over the Bees at Old Trafford: “The way we played against Brentford, which is a very tough opponent, if you see their results and analyse them especially against top teams, they play really well and it's very difficult to create chances against them. We create something but especially on the ball, we played very well. It was initiated by Bruno, he played a brilliant game on the ball, dictating, made the rhythm of the game from the back, overload in midfield and our wide players played really well.

“Second half, we didn't get a second goal, was more of a battle, but you saw the determination, the desire and the passion that we missed on Sunday [in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle], these are the standards we have to bring in every game. It was not acceptable on Sunday, not the standards of United, so there were several things I was happy with."

AND WHAT'S MORE: Ten Hag added: "You see the approach is changing from all the teams when you go to the end. The points are more expensive in the end. The demands also a certain mentality, and when you don't bring it on the pitch you get beaten in the Premier League. When one or two can't bring this, as a team you have a problem. You saw it Sunday. Today is the performance I expect and demand.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: United have been forced to tinker with their midfield plans slightly after losing Christian Eriksen to injury and Casemiro to suspension – although the former is edging his way back to fitness following ankle surgery, while the latter has just one game left to serve on a four-match ban.


Bruno Fernandes Manchester United Brentford 2022-23

Bruno Fernandes Fred Marcel Sabitzer Manchester United 2022-23

Erik ten Hag Manchester United 2022-23

WHAT NEXT? United, who have returned to fourth spot in the Premier League table, will be back in action on Saturday when playing host to Everton.