Bruno on confidence, formations and Felix
Bruno Fernandes reflected the strong morale within the Manchester United squad when he spoke at length during a pre-match press conference for the Atletico Madrid clash.
Here's a transcript of everything Bruno had to say to the reporters via video link from Carrington...
In the last couple of games, the team has played better. Has that built some confidence ahead of clearly one of the most important games of the season?
“I think the team has been playing well, even in games we didn’t win. Obviously when you don’t get the results, it’s not perfect for you, and obviously we know that. Winning games gives you more confidence and going into this game that’s important as it’s a difficult one. Having that confidence of winning games gives you something more to be prepared for the game, to be more focused and to understand that if we do the right things and the things we worked to do, and if we stick to the plan from the first minute to the last minute, we can win the game.”
“I don’t know what people mean by that, honestly. I was doing an interview now and they asked me about Jadon doing my celebration. I don’t think that is something that is going in different ways. I saw the game and the goal of Harry’s and I’m seeing Paul running behind him and sliding on his knees, happy for him. I was looking at his head and saying, ‘finally he has scored with that big head!’ I think honestly it is people trying to complain and making stories about this club, because we know when people talk about this club or about some player at this club, they go around the world with their voice and that is something that they want. For us it means nothing and for us, as I said before, if we stick to the plan and if we stick together, that’s the main thing. Sticking together and winning together.”
I wanted to ask you about your compatriot in the national team, Joao Felix. You’re going to face him tomorrow. He is not showing his true potential for Atletico at the moment so is it the club’s problem or the player’s problem and what advice would you give him?
“I don’t know what the problem is. What I know is he has unbelievable quality, he has huge potential and is still very young. So I think sometimes we forget the age of his players and at his age he is still in a phase of growth. When Atletico bought him, he had only played six months in the First Division of Portugal so that shows you the kind of quality he has because it is not just any club that would pay the money that Atletico did for him. We also know Atletico wasn’t the only club that was after him so they were really keen to get him as quickly as possible. Obviously then the qualities have to go along with the team itself and everyone knows what [Diego] Simeone asks you for, he likes aggressive players. We know that he [Joao Felix] is a very technical player, he can defend as well, I believe, I have played with him and I know he can do that. But I think he’s a player that needs to have a bit of freedom but I don’t know what is happening within the club so I can’t really comment on that.
“I can say what I have seen [of him] at Benfica. What I have seen at Benfica is a player that can get to a level that very few can get to. So I think he has all those necessary qualities to get there and I think later in the future, or sooner or later, he’ll do it, whether that’s at Atletico or another place. When I have spoken to him, I talk about his personal life with him, I don’t really talk about his footballing situation. I think when I speak to him it is just generally about personal things, how he’s doing and that’s it really. I don’t really go beyond that and speak about what goes on at the club and what he thinks, what he wants. But I know he’s a really good guy, he has great quality and I’m sure, whether that’s at Atletico or another club in the future, he will have a great career if he continues like he is.”
“I think every year Atletico Madrid are criticised. I don’t think I have ever seen a year when they have not been criticised, for the way that they play, how they do things. But I think since Simeone has arrived, they have done some great things. Whether it’s playing good football, or playing less pretty, however you like to call it. The most important thing is they get to finals, they’re always there fighting for the top spots in leagues, in cups, in Champions Leagues. I don’t know what playing lovely is... I think, for me, it is being up there and fighting for the league. We know that when you’re winning games and you’re at the top, everything is great and nobody criticises or questions what’s going on. When things aren’t going well, and you’re a little bit behind everyone else, then problems can arise. But I think Simeone, what he has done in the last few years at Atletico, for what he has achieved, Atletico is a lot more respected across Europe today than they were. So they were already a big side but since Simeone has come, they have been even more respected across Europe.”
Fernandes: We have Champions League winners
Bruno dismissed the idea of players informing tactics, before praising our Champions League winners in the squad...
“About the formation, no one has to worry apart from the coach and the staff. I think we have to follow what the manager and the staff think is the best way for us, that is the most important. In my years at this club, I never heard someone complain about the tactics and I hope that no one would do that because it is not respectful for the coach’s ideas. I think we have been doing so well since he arrived. We have more identity as a team, I think.
“Obviously as you said before, Cristiano has won this competition many times and everyone knows that in this kind of competition, he has that smell for a goal, that smell for doing different things. In the same way, we have Rapha who has also won the Champions League, four times I think, so he is another player who is capable of what to do. But it is always the first time for someone that wins. Sometimes it is about someone who has more experience, sometimes it is about someone who has experienced it for the first time. When Cristiano won it for the first time, he was probably not the most influential player but he still helped the team to win the Champions League. So it is all about everyone sticking together, doing the same things, having the same focus and obviously any player that can decide games for us at any moment is always helpful. Whether that’s Cristiano or another one, the most important thing is winning the game and going through this stage.”