Erik ten Hag and Bruno Fernandes

How United's flexibility helps Bruno

Friday 20 January 2023 07:00

Bruno Fernandes believes being utilised in different positions by Erik ten Hag helps him understand the demands of each role and provide guidance to his team-mates out on the pitch.

The Portuguese playmaker racked up his 100th goal involvement for United in his 153rd game for the club on Wednesday evening, during the 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.

The majority of those 55 goals and 45 assists have come when Fernandes has occupied the no.10 role, an area of the pitch from which he plays a vital role in both the offensive and defensive phases of the game.

Fernandes: I’ll do what Erik needs me to do Video

Fernandes: I’ll do what Erik needs me to do

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But Bruno has popped up on the right- and left-wings under Ten Hag – sometimes from kick-off and also occasionally drifting out wide during matches too, often when United are in the lead.

With Casemiro and Luke Shaw operating at centre-back in recent weeks and Scott McTominay also occupying more advanced positions, Ten Hag clearly thinks versatility is a virtue and adjusting to different positional demands – even if only for short periods at a time – is something Bruno finds useful as one of the team’s leaders.

“I offer what the manager needs me to offer. We train a lot and I like to see what other players have to do on the pitch,” Fernandes told club media recently.

“As the manager has said many times: if someone is not doing what they need to, we have to command each other ourselves and understand what is not going well because it can help to send a message from the bench on to the pitch.

“It has to be the players that do that step and, for me, it is important to know that I can play different positions and do different things and that the manager trusts me to play on the right wing, as a number eight, on the left or wherever he needs me to play.

“Whatever he needs me to do, I know that, in training during the week, it’s because of the wingers or because of the number eight, what he needs or even if he needs me to play as a striker.

“I know what he demands and then I know what he needs to do and if he needs me to play in that position.

“For me, the most important thing is I feel most confident playing as a number 10 as it is in the centre of the pitch, compared to out wide or number eight [but] I know if I have to play as a left-winger, right-winger, left-back, it doesn't matter. If I can help the team in a different position, that will be my main goal.”