Bruno Fernandez should start delivering for Manchester United against the first six
Thirteen years ago, there was another big game in London that ended in a goalless draw for Manchester United. Touchline manager Sir Alex Ferguson spent the entire second half demanding his team’s attack, often recklessly, and then threw a hat, which he wore in feigned disappointment at the last whistle after failing to break through. Then United, who withdrew against Tottenham Hotspur, was very different from United, who won the same result against Chelsea on Sunday, and while current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will rightly claim to be on a long and difficult recovery process, it is still missing a precious commodity: the belief that they can win big games when they really matter. Solskjaer̵
7;s record against the rest of the Big Six was good before this season, when United often managed to bleed the noses of those who overtook them as they climbed back into the top four and even successfully played the role of the outsider. But this punishing 6-1 defeat earlier in this campaign at home to Tottenham Hotspur seems to have marked them. Since then, United have played six times against the Big Six in the Premier League and have not even scored a goal. Of course, they have lost only one of these matches – at home to Arsenal – but there must be a change in mentality to return to the top. In fact, their only goal was Bruno Fernandez’s penalty in this punishing defeat by the Spurs. In the last quarter of an hour against Chelsea, there was a feeling that all the urgency came from the home and that Solskjaer’s promise that United would continue to try to catch Manchester City was for public consumption only. In particular, he seemed happier to try to secure second place over the weekend when Leicester City lost and to keep Chelsea out of the Champions League qualifiers. “After all, we didn’t have the quality,” Solskjaer said, and that was a fair recognition, even if he pointed to a break-up near the last whistle when United could claim victory. That would be difficult for Chelsea, whose head coach Thomas Tuchel seems to have shown a more positive intention with his changes. As Tuhel changed staff and formation, Solskjaer made only one substitution: Anthony Martial for Mason Greenwood in a similar replacement. “You’re at Manchester United to win matches,” said former Solskjaer team-mate Roy Keane from his student’s chair, although he acknowledged that United had a different “mindset” where the fear of losing seemed to outweigh the momentum. to try to win. Certainly not – but not yet – United Ferguson will admit. Maybe it’s hard for them. Solskjaer put United in second place, which no one would have predicted earlier this season, although a look at the competition suggests that he still has to be careful. After Crystal Palace in the middle of the week away Manchester City, West Ham at home with a draw in the Europa League against Milan in the middle of everything. So it was a chance to open a small gap, to give themselves a little space, but they weren’t brave enough to take it. So big games are coming up and a big game approach will be needed to win. One of the legitimate concerns about United – which will be blasphemous to many of their fans – is whether Fernandez is doing enough in these matches and whether they are sorely missed by the injured Paul Pogba. Fernandez failed to win against Chelsea, even if United extended their match to 20 away games without a loss. Maybe it was the presence of the relentless N’Golo Kante against him, or maybe it was his excessive tendency to impress, but the passes were exaggerated and the teammates quickly scolded him as he showed his disappointment. The fact is, however, that the Portuguese mascot is unlikely to have a quieter game throughout the season. Or so he would hope. He created only one chance, lost possession 20 times, was dribbled four times. Honestly, it is clear to Fernandez, as City proved in the semi-final of the League Cup between the two countries, that if he is stopped, United will be stopped. So it is up to others to step up and provide more support. Saying that world-class players are finding a way, Fernandez could make an impressive performance at the Etihad next weekend to stop this debate from developing. Maybe everything would have been different if United and Fernandez had received a penalty in the first half, they were so adamant that it should have been given to them. It may have turned into a different game, although the most appropriate summary comes from United left-back Luke Shaw, who was given his thoughts. “Ah, I don’t really know … we may both be safe [in the way we played], “he said. That’s true. But that’s not United’s way either.