Jamie Carragher believes Manchester United’s clash with Chelsea on Monday will be a truer test of Bruno Fernandes’ potential.
The attacking midfielder finally joined United from Sporting CP in January after a saga that stretched over multiple transfer windows, and made a fairly positive impression on his debut against Wolves.
That game ended as a goalless draw, and following their winter break, United return to action with another tricky tie against one of the challengers for a top four spot, Chelsea.
Sky Sports pundit Carragher thinks the midfield will be a key area in deciding where the game is won, and that Fernandes will have to prove his worth there.
“Chelsea have got a really strong midfield in Jorginho, [N’Golo] Kante and [Mateo] Kovacic in there,” the former Liverpool defender said.
“It’s really strong and they’ve still got people like [Mason] Mount or [Ross] Barkley who could drop in there also.
“With the new signing for Manchester United, Bruno Fernandes, coming in there as well, he made a decent start against Wolves in his first game.
“He’s been away with United now, getting to know his team-mates and integrate more so it’ll be interesting whether he plays central midfield or off the front as he played both positions in the game against Wolves.
“It will be interesting what happens in that area because that’s something where United wanted to strengthen, with [Paul] Pogba and [Scott] McTominay being out, so I think that’s where the game will be won.
“It will be interesting to see how Fernandes copes. It’s completely different playing away at Chelsea than playing at home to Wolves.”
Fernandes has already reportedly admitted his surprise at the intensity of the Premier League, and it is bound to be put to the test again against Frank Lampard’s side.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was recently given some advice by former Swansea City manager Carlos Carvalhal on how Fernandes should be deployed in the midfield, having come up against him this season with current club Rio Ave.
Carvalhal told Sky: “He is not a No 10. He is a midfielder but he has developed that ability to break the line of the defence to score goals. He shoots, he assists, the passes and the free-kicks.
“But he is not a 10, he is an 8. He is a box-to-box player who understands very well the game. He doesn’t just play. He understands everything that happens around him.”