Bruno: I feel like this is my home
Bruno Fernandes says he feels like Manchester United is his home upon signing a new deal at Old Trafford.
On Friday morning, it was announced that the Portuguese midfielder, who initially signed for the Reds from Sporting in January 2020, has committed his long-term future to the club.
Upon putting pen-to-paper on a contract that will keep him at the club until June 2026, with the option to extend for a further year, Fernandes sat down with MUTV's Stewart Gardner to explain why he was keen to stay at United, his love for the fans, his desire to lift silverware as a Red, and much more.
The interview is available in full for you below...
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“Obviously, I’m really happy, it’s been pretty good, the time that I’ve spent with the club and, as I said on the first day, it was a dream come true and it still is a dream. This will be a dream for me until my last day in the club. So I’m happy that my last day is longer, I have more time to be in the club, to enjoy it and to keep dreaming.”
What a week it’s been for you as well, qualifying for the World Cup with Portugal and then this news about the contract extension as well…
“It was very important for me, the national team, everyone knows representing their country is something special, something different and this contract could be signed probably one week ago but I told the club that I want to keep my focus on the national team, and we will have time to get it done. Obviously, from the club, this is an important point for me because the trust that they have on me is showing now that they are giving me a new contract sooner when my contract was still a long-term [one]. Obviously, this shows how important I am for the club, how they feel I am important for the club and my confidence is higher and higher. Obviously, I know I have to do much better than before every time because if they have this kind of person here, you have to show something more.”
As for this club, is this now a second home to you?
“For me, it’s my home now. I feel like this is my home, it has to be. Here, I’m living my dream and I’ve been thinking of these moments that I’m living with the club for long, so I’m here now, I have to feel like this is my first home for now.”
“Obviously, I think, as I say I will repeat myself but, this was a dream since I was a kid, I was dreaming to play in the Premier League and, luckily for me, I could get both things that I dream about; playing Premier League for the club that I dream about. So, it’s still a dream, I want to keep dreaming, keep doing this that way and obviously it’s been true that there’s been many good things in the club, some bad things, but as life is, it’s hard and sometimes you don’t get what you want but I’m pretty sure I still have time to do what I dream.”
Some great matches and memories to come, but I’m just wondering if there are any specific matches that stand out in your first couple of years at Manchester United?
“I think your first game is always important. I felt straight away the trust from the players, the staff, all the club and more importantly from the fans. Straight away, you arrive [and have your] first game in two days, and you have the fans singing your own song. That’s something special that probably doesn’t happen for too many players, you have to be aware that you arrive, it’s your dream and everything but they’re expecting something from you. I’ve been through really good moments with the club, and I think that game will mark me probably most and obviously my first goal against Watford too because it’s something that you wait for, scoring your first goal for your new club, hearing the fans singing your name after the first goal is something special.”
Your family are here, they obviously support you, what do they think about your news, the fact that their stay here is going to be longer?
“Obviously, the one that is more happy is my daughter. She started school, she has friends, she’s happy in this moment because she goes every day, she knows she’s going to play, she has all the friends in the school, so she will be happy to be here for longer so she can keep the same friends for a longer time. I think as a player, sometimes we don’t give that to our families, we don’t give that stability to our kids to stay longer in one place and I want that stability too, that’s why I signed the new deal also for that because I feel that here is a special place for me to be and for my family it could be the perfect place to keep going, to keep our lives, to have our kids happy and that is most important for me and my wife, that the kids are happy.”
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“That’s the most important [thing] now, to end the season the best way we can. You have to understand that it is not enough everything that we have done this season, we know the standards of this club, the standards of these players have to be something more, we are all aware of that. But now, there is nothing you can do, the maximum that we can do is going every game to win, win every game, show the fans you are still fighting for the club, still doing your best even though you know that you will not lift any trophy this season, but we know the fans deserve that we fight until the end.”
What are the players saying about the rest of the campaign and the drive to qualify for the Champions League because everybody wants to be in that competition of course?
“Obviously, we know that being in the Champions League is important for us. Everybody wants to play at that stage so we know we have to give our best to be in the Champions League places, but the most important thing for us is to be starting to think already of Leicester, it will be a tough game and most important for us has to be thinking of our own games and don’t think about the clubs that could be in our position or not because we have to do our job, if we do our job well, we’ll probably be in those places. If we do our job well and unluckily we don’t get in the places, we know that along of the season, we had some bad moments that don’t get us to be in that position so everything that we can do now is winning every game we have from now until the end of the season.”
As you said, nine games to go with Leicester, do you still believe we can do it?
“I always believe until [the end]. Since I arrived at the club, I think my mentality has been like that, even in other clubs, I will stop believing when it’s mathematically not possible. Until then, I will try my best to help the team to be in the position. As I said, we know we’re not going to win the league, so we know our goal has to be in the Champions League places, so that has to be the focus.”
When it’s not in our own hands, what is the key? Is it to try and put pressure on others, to build some momentum?
“No, I think for us it is important to win our own games, that is the most important. We know we that they have to drop points, but if we start dropping points and they drop at the same time, it will make no sense. We have to focus on our own games because we have tough games to come, so win your games and after, we’ll see what happens.”
“As I said, when I arrived for my first game, two days after I signed my first contract, they are singing my song in the stadium. Straight away, you feel that this is a special place for you, that you belong to this club and that’s why. We know that the fans when we win will be more happy than when we lose but that’s football, that’s life, it will be always like that because as players we’re not as happy when we lose as when we win. You have to understand the fans’ side, but I feel the support from the fans since I arrive until now. It can be at moments that the fans are angry because you don’t score, you don’t assist, you don’t play well, but that’s normal, that’s football and you have to learn with that. They are every game in the stadium to support you so they can say you had a bad or a good game but next game, they’ll be there to support you, so you have to be happy for that, you have to feel that you are in a special position.”
At the age of 27, you’re probably going to have your prime years here. Do you feel you are still improving and learning day by day?
“I will be until the end of my career, improving and learning, I hope so. I think you can only be better and better if you improve and learn every day. Even if you think that sometimes you cannot push yourself more or give more, I think you always have something to learn and improve and my mentality will always be like that. In football, in life, I always want to be better every day. Two different things, better things and that’s the most important.”
I just wondered if training and playing with the players here, does that help improve you?
“Of course, we all have different qualities. I learn from everyone, I think even in different positions, you can learn different things with them and that’s something important and special. Everyone knows the relationship I have with Juan [Mata] for example, he’s one of the players I learn more [from] since I arrive. Even in technical aspects or mentality-wise, it’s something that I learn, but at the same time, I can learn with [Anthony] Elanga who is much younger than Juan. He is starting his career, he can help me improve my game, so I think you have to make the balance between both and learn from that.”
You mentioned Elanga there, if we look at the future and foundations we’re building on, the likes of Anthony and Jadon [Sancho] for instance, then we’ve got young lads who have reached the FA Youth Cup final, the [Under-]18s. So, looking at the future, how exciting do you think the future could be at Manchester United?
“I think it’s important for everyone to understand, the future can be bright, but at the same time, it’s difficult for them to get straight away in the team, to have that impact. We cannot rush every player that we think in the Under-18s, Under-23s are doing well, you cannot think that they will arrive in the first team and do well in the first instance. You have to give time, space for them to learn, to be ready for the game. Some of them are probably ready already, they come to the first team, they play, and they will be ready because some players are like that, some players don’t feel the pressure, some players have a different mentality. But I think as a club, as a fan side, we have to have expectations for every player that we think can be good for us, but at the same time, having patience when he doesn’t have a good game, when he doesn’t have an impact that we expect. I think that happened with Jadon at the beginning of the season and now he’s getting better and better, and I think he can get much better than this. It’s important that we’re calm, we learn and understand there’s a process for every player and every player has a different process. Not everyone will arrive and straight away bang, they are in the moment, they will be fine, they will be okay, some players need time, improvement and they will because we have all the conditions, we have the players that will support between us, we will support each other to get the best version of everyone.”
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“No, I don’t think so. Probably some difference, a little bit more mature, understanding some different things, different culture but it’s still the same guy with the same desire, same hunger, the same mentality to win. That probably changed a little bit, my mentality now is even more higher to win something with this club because as you said before, I feel the support from everyone, I feel the confidence from everyone and I feel like I have to give something back to these people that is every day around me and the people that is every day at the stadium helping us, to push us, to give us the energy that we need. I hope that this new deal that is getting me longer at the club gets better things for everyone, not just for me.”
Because of the pandemic, you haven’t yet experienced the global appeal of United on those pre-season tours. The new tour has obviously been announced, we’re going to be playing in Australia and Thailand, how much are you looking forward to seeing the remarkable support that there is for Manchester United worldwide?
“It’s something that when you come to this club, you have to go around the world, you say that and you understand how big this club is, how far this club goes. So, this is something that always you want to go and see and have that experience in countries that normally don’t have big clubs, or they don’t talk a lot about football, they have other sports in their countries that people watch more, and people like to play more than football. But you see people go crazy when this kind of club go there and they experience to be with us, seeing us, seeing us training, playing and everything. It’s something that we have to be aware [of], we represent this club, we go in there and the people are waiting to see us, to get an autograph, to get a photo, so sometimes it’s difficult but we have to be patient and go there and make the people happy because they wait for this for one entire season and now it’s probably two years or three years that we don’t have a good pre-season. So, now it’s the first time for me and I hope I enjoy it.”
Also, Bruno, the ultimate ambition for you I’m sure is winning trophies. Does signing on for long term mean that you think the trophies are going to come sooner or later?
“I believe that the club will be back at the place it deserves to be, that’s why I signed a new deal. That’s why the new deal, we start to talk with the club a long time ago and one of the points I wanted to make was the club coming to me and not me going to the club and it’s something that makes me proud, makes me feel I’m doing the right things and the club think I deserve something new, they think that what they propose to me in the beginning is not at the same level. So, that is something that I want to be thankful to the club [for], for doing that and it shows if you do the right things, if you do the right work, you will have the rewards of that. For me, I had long talks with the club, not about the contract but about the future of the club because I want to be part of that if I stay. Obviously, now I’ve signed a new contract so I will stay, and I want to understand what the club wants. The club wants to win, the club wants to build something. From what they have told me, I believe that the club will be back in its standards, could be probably not next season at the standard that we want, but I think step by step, I think that the club will be back in the glorious days.”