Tony Cascarino has compared the influence of Bruno Fernandes on Manchester United to that of club legend Roy Keane, praising him for demanding more from his teammates.
Fernandes’ arrival at United coincided with their upturn in form. In his 74 games for the club, they have won 47 and lost just 11, taking them to second in the league and a Europa League semi-final this term. His statistics show he has been heavily involved in that form, scoring 38 goals and assisting 24.
While Fernandes is more of an attack-minded player than Keane, an aggressive box-to-box midfielder in his day, Cascarino believes has the same galvanising effect on those around him. Not least because he isn’t afraid to tell fellow United players what he thinks.
Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: “They have got a lot of good characters now in their team. There is a little bit of feistiness going on in the team as well.
“You always feel with Fernandes, he always wants to upset one or two. Or says things as the game is going on. That’s what Keane did. Keane did that for years at United.
“I played with Roy so I know he would but it was in a good way. He would upset a few as the game was going on. Fernandes is doing that all the time. If you watch him he’s doing it all the time. But it doesn’t work in the wrong way.
“I’ve seen him have a pop at Luke Shaw. I’ve seen him do that. I quite like that they have got that about them. I think that adds to them.”
Man Utd title challenge not far off
Although the season could still bring success in the Europa League, a serious push for the title never quite materialised in 2020/21, with the trophy looking guaranteed to be heading back to Manchester City.
But Jamie Carragher believes United deserve credit for what they have achieved regardless, and could challenge next year.
“How much of a leap would it be for Man Utd to win the title next season? It would be a jump, of course it would be,” he said.
“But I actually think Man Utd get too much criticism for what they’re doing right now. Man City are phenomenal – we’re talking about a team who were on the verge of doing the quadruple and could still do a treble.
“Man Utd are ten points behind but when you see the distance that some teams in second and third have been behind (the champions in the past), ten points doesn’t sound too bad to me.”
But the former Liverpool defender adds that United must get it right in the transfer market if they are to compete.
“So there’s a lot to be enthusiastic about. A lot will come down to whether they can make that last step in the transfer market in the summer,” he added.
“They’ve had a really good season, and they’ll want to cap it off with a trophy as Man Utd need to be winning trophies.”