Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Van Persie, Scholes rave over ‘unselfish’ Man Utd star after Barca win as Ten Hag comes to realisation over tactical error

Bruno Fernandes, Fred Man Utd v Barcelona

Former Manchester United stars Robin van Persie and Paul Scholes both lauded Bruno Fernandes’ ‘unselfish’ attitude towards playing in an unfamiliar wide position in the same way Red Devils legend Wayne Rooney used to do.

The Portuguese playmaker has been used as a winger a fair amount by United boss Erik ten Hag in recent weeks, with Wout Weghorst strangely lining up in Fernandes’ preferred number 10 spot.

And that was how they lined up again at the start of the Europa League play-off second leg clash with Barcelona at Old Trafford.

However, trailing 1-0 at half-time and 3-2 on aggregate in the tie, Weghorst came off for Antony and Fernandes was switched back to his central role.

That led to a stirring second-half display from United as he assisted Fred for the equaliser. Antony then grabbed what turned out to be the winner as United progressed 4-3 on aggregate.

And although Ten Hag used Fernandes out wide again, both Van Persie and Scholes agree he should be playing centrally. However, they were full of admiration for the 28-year-old’s selfless attitude, similar to that of Rooney during his time at Old Trafford.

Speaking after the win over Barca, Van Persie told BT Sport: “It shows as well that Fernandes plays on the wing and great players do that for the team.

“Rooney did it as well in his time, many times, on the wing.

“It’s like when you are a great player you are a team player. When the team needs you on the wing, then he does that.

“He is showing he wants to win, for the team, for everyone.

“And even as a winger he is still doing well, but I do agree with Owen [Hargreaves] that in the centre of the pitch he is by far the best.”

Fernandes showing his worth to Man Utd

Scholes agreed with Van Persie, adding: “I don’t think it was key in the first half because I don’t think it worked particularly well. We know Bruno will sacrifice himself to play out there.

“[Jadon] Sancho was playing in a little bit of a different position – OK, he came on on Sunday and did ok there – but he’s not comfortable there, he wants to be out in the wider spaces.

“And sacrifice is what it is all about in these big games. You mention Wayne Rooney, he did it so many times to accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo. And just bringing that anticipation and quality to the team that Bruno has, wherever he plays in the team, he is capable of creating a goal.”

It will now be interesting to see what Ten Hag decides to do in the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle on Sunday.

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