Bruno Fernandes is either being given damaging instructions by Erik ten Hag or ignoring what the Manchester United manager is telling him, according to Paul Scholes.
Man Utd lost 1-0 to Newcastle on Saturday night, which is already their 10th defeat of the season. For perspective, their 10th defeat last season didn’t occur until May. It highlights how tough things have been for Ten Hag this term.
Pressure has been building on the Man Utd manager and several of his underperforming players, with yet more scrutiny coming their way on Saturday.
One player whose performance raised questions – either of himself or Ten Hag – was captain Fernandes.
Speaking on Premier League Productions, Scholes wondered exactly what the attacking midfielder is actually being asked to do, and whether or not he is paying attention to it.
Scholes said: “Look, he’s got fantastic ability, he can score a goal and make a goal, but I would love to be in the dressing room before a game and see what the manager is asking him to do.
“What position is he asking him to play? Where are you supposed to be on the football pitch? I see him as a No.10, it’s his best position as he can play a pass and he can get a goal.
“Where was he tonight? He was never in that position.
“I see him on the left, the right, sometimes he is the deepest Manchester United player, getting the ball off the goalkeeper.
“I don’t think that is healthy for the team. It upsets the formation and it upsets the way of playing.
“We don’t know, the manager might be telling him to do it, but it looks like he goes out and does what he wants on the field.”
Pressure on Man Utd captain
Ten Hag selected Fernandes as his new captain over the summer after removing the armband from Harry Maguire.
Some have debated if the 29-year-old was the right choice. As Maguire encountered, there will only be more pressure and scrutiny in the role.
Fernandes has played for Man Utd since January 2020, when they signed him from Sporting CP.
He has since made 205 appearances for the club, scoring 69 goals and providing 59 assists.
According to the team sheets, that most recent appearance should have been – as Scholes suggested – in a central attacking midfield position, in between Alejandro Garnacho and Marcus Rashford.
But for whatever reason, he did not impact the game in the way Ten Hag might have wanted him to, tactically or technically.