What fuels Bruno's penalty-taking prowess?

Wednesday 12 June 2024 11:18

Whatever happens at the European Championship in Germany, if he gets a chance to score from the spot, Bruno Fernandes will be ready.

Fernandes has been Manchester United's go-to man from 12 yards since signing for the club in 2020 and last season he overtook Ruud van Nistelrooy as our most successful penalty taker.

Bruno has converted 31 of his 35 United spot-kicks and he has been discussing how he prepares for these pressure situations, whether it’s during a game or in a shootout, like for our Emirates FA Cup semi-final victory over Coventry City.

“I have some adjustments that I do when I have penalties,” our skipper said.

Precision! Bruno's 31 goals from penalties Video

Precision! Bruno's 31 goals from penalties

We know it, and with Portugal he showed it: Bruno Fernandes is really, really good at scoring penalties…

“I always talk with the goalkeepers’ coach about the way that the goalkeeper does [things] or how he saves it, how he’s [doing things] movement-wise and everything.

“And from the videos I see and the conversations I have with Craig [Mawson, goalkeeping coach], I always see what’s the best solution for me or the best way that I could take the penalty to get the best chance of scoring. 

“Obviously sometimes it depends if it’s in the first minute, it’s in the last minute. Then it depends how you feel more comfortable to do [it] and not thinking too much about the keeper.

“So I always try to find the balance between what I feel more comfortable doing and what is the most difficult thing for the goalkeeper to save. So you have to find a balance between that and then take your chance.”

Bruno has scored three penalties during his Portugal career too, although former United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo takes the majority of them for his national side.

Ronaldo is, of course, one of the best in the business when it comes to spot-kicks and Fernandes has revealed he has had conversations with the all-time great about taking them.

“I don’t have many things, I just like to be focused on myself,” he continued. “I have all those thoughts that you said in my head. They all come through. No-one is different.

“That’s something that we spoke about once with Cristiano in the national team. We were talking about taking penalties and I think we had like three or four players there at the time that were penalty takers in their own clubs.

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Bruno leads the way when it comes to scoring from the spot for the Reds.

“We talked about the pressure of taking a penalty, and everyone was saying that ‘I always have pressure taking a penalty’ because it’s a situation where you are one-v-one with the keeper and it is your own responsibility of scoring or not scoring.

“It’s something that comes into your mind. There are many things: what should I do? How do I shoot? Where is the side? Because some players make their minds [up] before the games, and some players make their mind in the moment and start thinking about that. I think everyone is different.

“I don’t have anything special that I do, but I try to be as focused as I can, and start thinking about what I want to do.”

Erik ten Hag’s current United squad boasts several penalty experts, with Marcus Rashford scoring against Everton home and away last season.

Bruno also highlighted another few Reds he has been impressed with, even if just on the training pitch at Carrington. He suggests Scott McTominay is a great option for club and country.

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“I’m very sure that we have a lot of players that can take penalties. We saw it last year in the Carabao Cup [FA Cup] where we had many of them taking the penalty and doing it well.

“Someone that I will trust is Victor [Lindelof]. He’s someone that is really comfortable and someone that has the quality to take the penalty and he’s cold enough to get that chance.

“Casemiro too, is another one that is experienced, he’s someone that knows how to find his balance between the moments of pressure.

“I think Scott is a really good one also. I think he has a good stride on the ball, he’s powerful, he’s good at finding the corners, so I think he’s someone that could also be on the penalties.

“I’ve never seen, for example, Rasmus [Hojlund] take or Garna [Alejandro Garnacho], apart from training. But that’s always different!

“I’ve seen Scott doing it for Scotland against Serbia when it was probably World Cup qualification or something like that. I’ve seen Case taking, I’ve seen Victor, unfortunately against Portugal in the Under-21s [final in 2015].

“But we have many others that I think they could be [a penalty taker], but these three that I said, they are players that are really comfortable, with these kinds of decisions, to take a step.”

International round-up: Red-hot Bruno

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Four Reds made it onto the pitch for their countries on Tuesday – get all the details here.

ALL-TIME PENALTY GOALS FOR UNITED

1. Bruno Fernandes - 31
2. Ruud van Nistelrooy - 28
3. Wayne Rooney - 27
4. Cristiano Ronaldo - 21
5. Eric Cantona - 18
5. Albert Quixall - 18
7. Steve Bruce - 17
8. Gerry Daly - 16
8. Charlie Mitten - 16
10. Denis Law - 15

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