Goals or assists: Which does Bruno prefer?
Bruno Fernandes has been a revelation since signing for Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in January.
The Portuguese playmaker registered 12 goals and eight assists in 22 appearances for the Reds during the second half of the 2019/20 campaign, helping United to third place in the Premier League and the semi-finals of the Europa League and Emirates FA Cup.
Our no.18 is clearly productive – he’s now clocked up 135 goal involvements in 159 club games since joining Sporting in the summer of 2017 – but does he prefer to hit the back of the net himself, or tee up a team-mate?
That’s a question Statman Dave put to the 25-year-old in a special episode of Box to Box, sponsored by HCL – and Bruno’s answer is typically detailed and thoughtful.
“I think it’s the same because it’s always a goal for the team,” said Fernandes.
“You need to look for the team.
“Of course, some players will say ‘I prefer an assist rather than a goal’, but I think it’s not about this because you play to win games. If your team scores, it doesn’t matter if you score or do an assist, it’s a goal.
“It’s important to be in the goals, whether it’s doing assists or scoring, so, for me, it’s the same.”
Bruno goes on to explain that obviously he still enjoys scoring – as his record of a dozen strikes in a red shirt, so far, testifies – but that his role as a playmaker also requires him to set up those in the team who are primarily judged on their goalscoring capabilities.
“Of course, I enjoy assisting my team-mates because playing no.10 is the position you have to serve your team-mates,” he added.
“Sometimes, I look too much for them when I have the chance to shoot but I try always to serve them, because, normally, the strikers are there to score. For their confidence, scoring is important.
“A no.10 doesn’t need to score a lot to be confident. For them, it’s important.
“Since I arrived in Manchester, I try to serve more than score – but I have more goals than assists. That’s true!”
All of Bruno's penaltiesVideo
Another thing United supporters will have noticed, beyond the obvious, since Bruno signed in January is his willingness to run hard for the team and press the ball in high areas of the pitch.
Fernandes admits that, while sometimes he may be too energetic even for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s liking, that eagerness to work is as integral to his skill-set as scoring and creating goals.
“I talk already with the manager and he says to me a lot of times ‘sometimes you do so many runs and some runs aren’t for you – you need to shout someone else to run, because after you are tired and, when you take the ball, you will not be fresh.’
“But it’s instinct, it’s part of my game. I can’t control this. I’m like this and I want to help the team every time.
“In the game, you don’t think, you just run. For me, that’s enough.
“I think the most important thing is to help the team and if you help the team it’s okay.”