Exclusive: Bruno on training, trophies & fans
Bruno Fernandes is feeling fresh and ready to go again as he and his Manchester United team-mates prepare to kick off the 2021/22 campaign.
Our no.18 sat down with club media's Stewart Gardner earlier this week at our training base in Scotland as the Reds continued the preparations for the new season.
Fernandes rejoined his United team-mates at Carrington last week and the few days in St Andrews have enabled him and the rest of the squad to get more training minutes into the legs as the Premier League opener against Leeds United on 14 August draws ever closer.
During a typically fascinating interview, our Portuguese magnifico discussed pre-season so far, his aims for the upcoming campaign and why the return of fans to Old Trafford will be so important for the players...
Firstly, Bruno, how are you feeling? Fit and fresh and ready to go?
“Yes, I’m fresh and happy to be back, seeing my team-mates again, training again, it’s always a good thing.”
After two seasons of pretty much non-stop football, do you feel recharged again after a family break in the summer?
“It was nice, finally a long break after the season. It was a long time, I think five years maybe since my last full break and honestly it was good to be with family and friends and enjoy time with my kids also because when we are playing the time we spend at home is less than what we spend at the training ground!” [Smiles]
How has the training camp been so far in Scotland?
“It’s been good. I won two times the tournament [we play] so it’s been perfect! [Smiles] The lads are ready. We have been training hard, everyone is training really well and everyone will be ready for the beginning of the season.”
How are the lads looking? You’ve all been doing some tough training sessions…
“As a professional player, I think you always prepare for your season before you come back for training, you always do something before. I think everyone was doing their jobs at home. I’m happy to see how everyone is and how happy they are to be back and they are training really hard.”
It looks like Donny van de Beek has bulked up a bit too…
“Yes he’s working hard and working hard in the gym. Obviously he is one of the quality players we know and now he’s building up.”
How much have the younger players impressed you during pre-season?
“I think we know some of them already. Jimmy Garner, I think is a really good player, I really like him and the way he kicks the ball. He’s really aggressive off the ball too. [Anthony] Elanga was already playing with us and this pre-season he has been brilliant. He’s a nice kid, works hard and is really humble and I think he’s deserving of everything that’s happening to him. I see a brilliant future for him and Jimmy too, and also for all the other kids.”
If you perform in pre-season then you can really put yourself in the mind of the manager and coaches. Anthony seems to be doing that…
“More than performing, he’s training hard. Since last season when he came to the first team he has been training really hard and, as I said, being very, very humble. The way he trains and treats the people is really important to be part of the first team and that’s why he’s deserving of every chance he gets and every performance he has put in.”
How much excitement is there around new signings – do the players get as excited as the fans?
“Of course - when you see the names that are coming and what they have done in the last few seasons. We are really happy with everyone that is coming in and of course to keep the lads who have been here the last few seasons is important because you have to grow up and at the same time you have to keep the same players to know we are doing better and better. With this team, we know we can do better, but adding some players to the team helps the team be better.”
You know what it’s like to join mid-season. Will it be easier for the new signings to settle in now?
[Smiles] “That’s the problem because they will arrive almost at the same time I did in terms of I trained two days and played straightaway! I think it’s always difficult to change country and change club, it doesn’t matter when you come. I was also lucky to play one game against Wolves and then we had five days off [matches] and one week in Marbella [for the winter training camp in 2020] and it was nice time to meet the lads and get to know them, so I was lucky at the same time. It’s also difficult to come to a new club, but at the same time you come to a big club and you are excited to play and being part of the team is always big. So I don’t think there are many changes from joining in January to July.”
Everyone at the club will be there to help any new signings settle in, won't they?
“Of course, we always want to help the ones who come into the club. Anyone who comes into the club to be part of the group will get help from everyone because as we always say it’s like a family here. We are together for a long, long time and the season will be long and we hope it will be as long as possible so we can win some trophies and at the same time we want to help everyone to be settled in the team. That’s really important as I said before, we want this club and this group to be like a family and we will do everything to do that.”
We’re getting ready to face Everton in our final pre-season game on Saturday and we’ll have 55,000 fans back inside Old Trafford…
“It’s been rare to have fans at the stadium. When I played at the Euros we played the first and third games with full stadiums and the feeling was really nice. We all know playing without fans is not the same. We can say we love playing football and it doesn’t matter about the conditions you play in, but having the fans back and having the excitement from them gives you a little push when you need it. We are lucky to have them back.”
What impact will having fans back have on our home form?
“I hope that can change with our home games, but also it didn’t change with our away games – I hope we can perform well at home and, as I said, the fans will push us. When you need that little push and you feel tired, they will help you have that little bit more energy and I think that will help us perform a little bit better and have a little bit more power in our legs and to have that belief to give them something to enjoy.”
Everton are a good side – how important is it to have a good standard of opposition for the last pre-season game?
“I think it’s really good. The standard of Everton is really high and after that there is one week before we start. It will be good to have a last test against a Premier League club with high standards and really good, quality players. But at the same time, still with this game it’s about performing well and to get some minutes in the legs. Of course we want to win the game, but the result will not be the most important thing in that game. At the same time though we want to win!” [Smiles]
Stepping it up in Scotland gallery
These ace black and white images show the Reds well in the mood for Saturday's friendly with Everton...
The MUTV cameras captured you deep in discussion with Andreas Pereira during the game with Brentford. What were you saying - was it about how good his goal was?!
[Smiles] “We talked about that and also about the game. Of course he scored a beautiful, beautiful goal and we had a little joke saying the award for Goal of the Season was already decided, but at the same time everyone was saying it doesn’t count because it’s a friendly match! [Smiles] It was a beautiful goal and everyone was happy for him.”
Are you already thinking about Leeds on the opening day and making a good start?
“It’s already in our minds to be ready for that game, of course, because we know everything we’ll do before that is to prepare for that game. We want to win against Everton and perform, but that game will serve to prepare us for the one against Leeds. The work we have to do in the next two weeks is to be ready for that game. We are enjoying the time here and trying to get the group more and more ready for the game and to be a group of players who want to win for each other. That will be the most important thing for these two weeks before we arrive at that game.”
How vital is it to get a good start this season?
“Last season we didn’t start well and then by January we were first in the league. Of course with the six points we lost straightaway we could be a little bit closer to the first place and still be first in February, so it’s always good to start winning games as it gives you that push and confidence you need to go game-by-game to try to win every one. It’s time to take the next step and we know we can do it; we believe in that and we want to do that. I hope everyone knows, of course, what we want to do. No player at this club doesn’t want to win trophies, that’s for sure and sometimes things go well and other times not, but we will keep fighting to win every trophy we can. It doesn’t matter which trophy it is, when you play for a club like Manchester United you have to win every competition you are in.”