Does Bruno Fernandes need a break?
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists any suggestions that his Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes is tired and requiring a rest are wide of the mark.
Our no.18 was substituted towards the end of Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield, a decision Ole admitted was tactical at the time.
Pundits and fans have argued that Fernandes hasn’t been his usual productive self in the new year - the winning penalty against Aston Villa is his only goal involvement in January so far - and some have put this down to fatigue, due to the intense fixture schedule.
However, the boss pointed out that Bruno is as energetic as ever, having only recently won the Premier League’s individual award for December and if the margins were slightly different, he'd have been coming back down the M62 at the weekend as United's match-winning hero.
“His form is very good, he was just voted the Player of the Month,” Ole reminded reporters.
“He’s not tired, no. No chance. He’s one of the players who runs and covers the ground in every single game.
“He’s very good at recovery, very good at recharging his batteries. If he’d scored with his free-kick, if he’d just had a bit of air on the shot when Luke put the cross in, he’d have been lauded as the best player in the Premier League again.
“Since he came in, he’s been absolutely immense. No, he’s not tired. If I ask him, there’s absolutely no chance he’ll say he’s tired.”
Bruno himself may admit that Sunday wasn't his best showing in a United shirt, with the Portuguese unable to pick the lock in a tight, tense game featuring precious few chances.
But Ole is happy with the role Fernandes is fulfilling, because he actively asks him to take risks with the ball and these sometimes don't pay off.
It is also worth reiterating he was twice close to breaking the deadlock and making the decisive intervention to prevent a goalless draw.
Watch Ole's pre-Fulham press conferenceVideo
“He’s expected to create goals, score goals and sometimes the margins are against him,” the boss added.
“That free-kick, there’s a couple of passes he plays through and it’s just marginal if it’s onside or off. So he’s always on the verge of creating something, even when he loses the ball.
“That’s the position I want him in and that’s what he’s been told to do. He has to be the creative one. I want him to play the passes he sees.”
Fulham v United kicks off at 20:15 GMT on Wednesday.