Rene Meulensteen has claimed Manchester United depend too heavily on Bruno Fernandes, but feels the club has two stars capable of filling his boots were he to ever get injured.
The Portugal star joined United in a £46.6m deal 11 months ago and has proved an enormous success. Since his arrival at Old Trafford, Fernandes has been involved in 52% of the club’s goals. His importance was illustrated with a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Leicester.
Such has been Fernandes’ importance that club legend Paul Scholes has been left in a bit of awe at his brilliance.
Now Meulensteen, who worked as No 2 during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in charge, admits United rely far too much on Fernandes.
With matches coming thick and fast at this time of the year, players are often vulnerable to muscle-related injuries. While Meulensteen hopes that doesn’t happen to Fernandes, he has illustrated his importance to their side.
“I think United can only have one New Year’s Wish and that’s for Fernandes not to get injured or suspended,” Meulensteen told Stadium Astro.
“His energy is unbelievable. Look at this goal again – it’s absolutely fantastic. The timing of the run and ball from Edinson Cavani is fantastic.
“As soon as Fernandes gets on the ball the likes of Marcus Rashford are on their way. Fernandes is just so, so important for United. He gives them rhythm, he’s a winner, he’s a leader, he creates assists and he scores goals.”
Van de Beek and Pogba in reserve
United have plenty of options at their disposal this season and Meulensteen has named two men who can step into his shoes if needed.
“They have other players that can go in that position like [Paul] Pogba or Donny van de Beek but they don’t have the same impact as him,” admitted Meulensteen. “I’m so impressed by his energy levels. He’s not afraid to work hard. He’s always trying to hurt the opposition with a pass in behind, he’s not afraid to shoot from distance.
“It’s a player that United rely on heavily. I’m sure that if he wasn’t there it would have an effect on United’s form.”