Bruno Fernandes does not deserve to win the PFA Player of the Year award, according to former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes.
Fernandes’ arrival at Old Trafford in January 2020 has been a major factor in their resurgence. The attacking midfielder hit the ground running in the Premier League and already has 34 goals and 21 assists to his name from 61 United appearances.
Thanks in part to Fernandes, United were even in title contention as far into the season as January. However, rivals Man City now seem destined to win the league instead.
Even so, Fernandes has had a major impact this season, with 15 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League so far. Only Mohamed Salah has scored more goals than him to date, while Kevin De Bruyne and Harry Kane are the only Premier League players with more assists this term.
However, United legend Scholes – who recently criticised Fernandes’ performance in big games such as United’s recent draw with Chelsea – has played down talk that the Portugal international should be named the Player of the Year.
“What he’s brought to this United team has been special,” Scholes told Optus Sport.
“He creates goals, scores – not in the big games! – but in a lot of them.
“Ultimately, at Man Utd you are there to win titles and big games and he has to be a bigger influence than that.
“I could give him a bit of an excuse with United’s centre-halves – to me, they need protecting too much, especially in the big games against proper forward players.
“[The central midfielders] sit too deep and he doesn’t get the support from the midfield players, which is important to him.
“It is not just the ability he has got, he needs bodies around him to take people away, so he can come into spaces, be a player who is controlling midfield, and that brings the best out of him.
“This will be a problem for United until they solve it. They need to sign a centre-half who is dominant, takes the ball off people, look what City have done with [Ruben] Dias… all the teams that have won the league in recent years: [Vincent] Kompany, [Virgil] Van Dijk.
“He should be right in the mix [for PFA Player of the Year], there is no doubt about that, but I am always a believer the best players are the players playing for the team that wins the league and there are a few City players I’d go for before Bruno.”
Former City star disagrees
Somewhat ironically, while United legend Scholes feels a City player should win the award, a former City man recently claimed Fernandes should get the honour.
Micah Richards claimed last month that Fernandes has been “the outstanding footballer” in the 2020-21 season.
He told the Daily Mail: “There are many fine candidates this year, not least Ruben Dias and Ilkay Gundogan, but the outstanding footballer of 2020-21 is Bruno Fernandes.
“His numbers at this stage of the campaign are frightening for a midfielder: 15 goals, 10 assists. Involved in a goal, either scoring or setting up, every 84 minutes. Fernandes has created 71 chances and I don’t believe United would be in the top four without him.
“The real mark of an outstanding player is what he does to others in the team and Fernandes has dragged improvement out of those around him. He also has a reputation now. If I hear United have scored, I have one thought: it’s Bruno!”