Insider's view: How Bruno Fernandes is fitting in
There is much to discuss about the season run-in for Manchester United, with the side so determined to impress in three competitions, yet the integration and development of Bruno Fernandes is perhaps the most fascinating sub-plot to the campaign’s conclusion.
The Portuguese playmaker was signed from Sporting Lisbon in late January and almost immediately made an eye-catching debut only two days later, when our new no.18 showed glimpses of his obvious quality during a 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanders at an expectant Old Trafford.
Then came the first ever winter break in English football, which allowed the 25-year-old to return home and move his life to Manchester, before departing to the warm-weather training camp that began in Spain on Saturday.
It is in Marbella where he has started to make a proper impression.
“Oh, he is getting on perfectly,” he said. “It is like he has been here for two years already. He is getting on very well with the lads, it is very good to have him here, it is very good for me, very good for the team, he is a fantastic player and a fantastic person, so it is one more to help the team.”
Footage of the diminutive midfielder shaping to shoot with his right foot, before dummying, dragging the ball to his left and unleashing a strike from a fresh angle went viral on Sunday - mainly because everyone is excited to see a highly-rated new signing, but also as that snippet of video showed a level of intelligence that can add another dimension to the team’s attack this season.
“He is settling in great,” said James. “I know quite a few of the boys speak his language and he speaks great English as well. So I think as soon as he came in he put his stamp on the game [against Wolves] and he showed what he is about in that last game, on his debut. He was great, with the balls he played in behind and, for me, if we can get that bond, especially playing it in behind, I think that will be great.”
Scott McTominay, currently on the comeback trail from injury, has also been a keen observer of a player who he could complement magnificently in central midfield upon his return to full fitness.
“In the brief moments that I have seen him in training, he has looked really, really good,” said Scott. “He has looked like every type of player that we need and every type of player that the manager wants as well. So hopefully that can come to us on the pitch and he can show us what he can do. I can't wait to play alongside him.”
In interviews that you can read later this month, Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick both spoke passionately about the experience and quality that Bruno brings to the side, while the manager himself was clear in his admiration for the January signing when speaking to us on Monday.
“He is a very, very good footballer and his brain is obviously quicker than many others,” said Ole. “He has loads of attributes that we are going to get used to. We will get used to him and he will get used to us. His passing range, deliveries, movements, I am just pleased to see him here enjoying himself.”
With a busy schedule to come in the Premier League, Europa League and Emirates FA Cup, Fernandes has an opportunity to make his mark on this young, hungry and improving United side. After such a positive introduction to the group, it will be fascinating to watch him grow in the coming weeks and months.
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.