Explained: Why Man Utd have changed Bruno Fernandes’ position & asked him to operate as a deep-lying midfield playmaker
- Portuguese has starred as a No.10
- Slotted into a deeper berth
- Covering for Eriksen and Casemiro
WHAT HAPPENED? The Portugal international has forged his reputation at Old Trafford as a no.10, with 60 goals and 51 assists recorded through 173 appearances. United have, however, had to get creative in their selections of late after losing Christian Eriksen to injury and Casemiro to suspension. Fernandes has been asked to slot into a deeper midfield role as a result, with the 28-year-old catching the eye alongside Scott McTominay and Marcel Sabitzer – with a man of the match performance put in during a 2-0 victory over Everton last time out.
WHAT THEY SAID: Ten Hag has said when asked why the Red Devils have tinkered with Fernandes’ role: “When you miss players you have to find solutions as a manager, as a coaching staff. So then you are looking. In the moment Casemiro and Eriksen were available there was no need to bring them down. But when you miss them you have to find a solution to bring the game from the back to get the build up, to progress the ball to attack. We found the idea to bring Bruno down deeper and he's doing brilliant, I think he's playing really good games.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: United have found a way of getting Fernandes onto the ball earlier in their build-up play, allowing him to get them onto the front foot and spark attacks that help them to play through the lines or make use of the pace and trickery that the likes of Marcus Rasford, Antony and Jadon Sancho possess on the flanks.
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WHAT NEXT? It could be that Fernandes is moved back into a more natural position when United face Sevilla in the Europa League and Nottingham Forest in the Premier League next week, with Eriksen returning to action off the bench against Everton while Casemiro served the final instalment of his four-match ban.