Brown lays down a challenge for Fernandes

Tuesday 18 January 2022 09:40

Bruno Fernandes was back to his creative best in the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa, according to Wes Brown, who has challenged the Portuguese playmaker to maintain that level of performance.

Our gifted no.18 has undoubtedly been a revelation since joining the club from Sporting in January 2020 and he has produced 81 goal involvements from 106 appearances so far, which is a staggering figure for an attacking midfielder.

Despite those numbers, however, Fernandes has perhaps experienced a slight dip in recent months and that has admittedly occurred when the team has struggled as a collective. But he is not one to hide and, on Saturday, at Villa Park, Bruno produced a display that had everybody talking.

Fernandes opened the scoring with a long-range strike that bounced through the legs of Emiliano Martinez and he doubled our lead by smashing the ball home off the underside of the bar. He was later voted our Man of the Match by supporters with 47 per cent of votes cast.

How Bruno gave us the lead at Villa Park Video

How Bruno gave us the lead at Villa Park

Fernandes opened the scoring at Villa Park thanks to a bizarre Emi Martinez error...

While the conclusion of that game was frustrating, after Villa fought back to salvage a 2-2 draw, there were a few positives to build on and they included the performance of Fernandes.

“He was getting himself into those positions where we like to see him,” says Brown in our latest episode of The Debate. “He was scoring the two goals and bringing some of that quality back that he gave us a lot last season and in probably every game. You could see he was back into it.

“We need to see more from him, he has got to keep that going now, but it was a very good performance from him. The first goal, he got a bit lucky with it, but the second goal was fantastic. He was back about the pitch, you could see that energy in him and he was looking to score. Hopefully we will see that again, because he's had a few ups and downs this season.”

When asked if the 4-2-3-1 formation gets the best out of Bruno, Wes continues: “Yeah I think it does. I just feel he is comfortable there, he likes to get on the ball, he knows he is in those positions when he picks up the ball he can shoot or set somebody up. I feel like when he is free and in those positions, he brings a lot more to the game and to the team.”
Fernandes scores a second goal against Villa Video

Fernandes scores a second goal against Villa

We didn't manage to take all three points, but Bruno's glorious second is well worth another look...

Brown’s fellow pundit on The Debate, Ben Thornley, agrees that the 4-2-3-1 formation was a success and the Class of ’92 graduate believes it could be crucial to beating Brentford on Wednesday night.

“I must admit, I do prefer that 4-2-3-1 formation,” says Ben. “And especially in Anthony Elanga's case because he is a wide player, he has played through the middle, but I think he does prefer to be wide and I thought that was the perfect game to play him in. He nullified Matty Cash, too.

“And I think if we play a lot more narrow, it does allow their full-backs to push onto ours. Brentford, especially, when they are playing with wing-backs as they do, then I think it is important to block that channel off and I think the 4-2-3-1 seems to be working a lot better than the 4-2-2-2.”