Phil Neville has jumped to the defence of Bruno Fernandes after Richard Keys accused Manchester United’s captain of deliberately getting booked so he would miss next weekend’s game against Liverpool.
The United skipper was shown his fifth yellow card of the season in United’s woeful 3-0 loss to Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday after arguing with the referee, meaning he will now service a one-game suspension for the trip to Anfield.
BeIN Sports host Richard Keys said at the time to fellow presenter Andy Gray that he felt the Red Devils playmaker deliberately got a yellow to miss the game against the Premier League leaders.
But on an appearance on NBC on Sunday morning, former United full-back Neville completely shot those suggestions down.
“I think that’s ridiculous talk, whoever said that in public is a disgrace,” Neville said. “If you look at Bruno Fernandes, I love Bruno Fernandes, he cares about Manchester United.
“Look at the teams in the top six, that’s the one player I’d take. Look at the one player who comes out after a defeat – it’s Bruno Fernandes.
“Captains over the years have played like Bruno Fernandes. Roy Keane whinged and whined like Bruno Fernandes. In this team, he’s the best player, he plays right wing, center midfield and he just gets on with it because he cares about the club.”
Keys, however, doubled down on his suggestions about Fernandes on Sunday, writing on X: “For the avoidance of doubt I’ll say it again. Fernandes knew he’d miss the Anfield game if he got a yellow.
“He didn’t want to play in it. 0-3 down & he has a tantrum. Captain? Leader? Others should be calling him out on it.”
No point sacking Ten Hag now
Neville, meanwhile, insisted that firing coach Erik ten Hag will make no difference – if United pull the trigger on the Dutchman’s tenure.
“The first thing they can’t do is sack the manager – they’ve done that. I was part of David Moyes’s staff – David Moyes came in, five-year contract and 10 months later he was sacked,” Neville said.
“I witnessed first hand – I’d been a player there, had great times there and seen what great looked like with a great manager – and then when I went in with him (Moyes) I was amazed with what I saw – the recruitment process and the fact they were more interested in the commercial side and making money rather than the pitch.
“Then Mourinho, Van Gaal,, Solskjaer. I remember when Ralf Rangnick left and he said the club isn’t going to be successful until it sorts itself out. And I think United needs to sort itself out.
“It’s not just the manager, the manager is the last thing they needs to sort out. The stadium is old, the training ground is falling to bit, the ownership want to sell but only want to sell a little bit.
“At this moment in time, getting rid of Ten Hag is fundamentally the wrong thing to do. He is trying to change the culture at United.”
Ten Hag’s men host Bayern Munich next in a must-win game if they are to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.