Why Fernandes is our running man of 2020/21

Monday 15 March 2021 07:00

Bruno Fernandes spoke last weekend about how football has become obsessed with certain statistics and the Portuguese may include himself in that assessment: our no.18 is a numbers man, after all, who is determined to register more goal involvements than appearances.

Like his friend and international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernandes is driven by his personal output and won’t stop until he is achieving the figures that his world-class talent is capable of for the team.

So far this campaign, Fernandes has contributed 16 goals and 10 assists from 29 Premier League appearances, so he is currently shy of his ambitious target, but those remain phenomenal numbers for a playmaker and it is easy to understand why he is a leading Player of the Year contender. 

Yet it isn't all about goal involvements.

Watch this video to see Bruno sprinting to regain possession in added time against West Ham.

Despite his own determination to achieve his target, Bruno last weekend agreed with Luke Shaw’s recent statement that spectators can fall into the trap of judging players on their goals and assists alone, which is probably caused by the immense popularity of games like Fantasy Football and the like.

Fernandes pointed out there is much more to analyse in any player’s display and he is absolutely right. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often states the very least you must do at United is work hard for the team, doing the things that are often unseen when highlights packages are put together. 

'The harder I work, the luckier I get,' is an old adage that can be applied to all walks of life, but particularly to football and sport. 

While ‘luck’ is not something we should attach to Bruno’s immense contribution, there is clearly a correlation between his work rate and goal involvements. 

Data recorded by statistical experts Opta shows that no player has worked harder for the team than Fernandes this season, at least in terms of distance covered in our Premier League matches. Specifically, Bruno has ran the most in 16 of the 29 top-flight fixtures, playing from box to box, in both defence and attack, generally setting an example for work rate among his team-mates.  

Fernandes recorded his biggest distance in the dramatic 3-2 win at Brighton & Hove Albion back in September and he was fractionally close to topping that during last weekend’s Manchester derby, when recording his second highest total of the campaign (both over 12 kilometres per game). The evidence shows he is showing no signs of tiring, either, as he continues to fight for our success on the pitch.

A player’s position is naturally linked to how much distance they cover and it is no coincidence that midfielders have topped the charts in 27 of the 29 games, with buccaneering full-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw also finishing at number one in the other two. But that does not take away from Bruno’s impressive consistency and such a work rate must be applauded. 

Fernandes started again in Sunday’s important Old Trafford win over West Ham and, as ever, our talismanic creator-in-chief worked his socks off for the team. 

Once again, he topped the distance chart for United.