Paul Ince has said that Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes could achieve hero status at the club if he keeps up his recent level of performances.
January arrival Fernandes has scored three goals and assisted three others in his eight appearances so far, including his crafty set-up for Anthony Martial in Sunday’s derby win over Manchester City.
The Portugal international has played a telling role in his side going 10 games unbeaten in all competitions since a 2-0 defeat to Burnley at Old Trafford in mid-January.
Speaking to Paddy Power, former United midfielder Ince said that should Fernandes continue in the same vein, he could reach a similar status held by club legends Paul Scholes and Eric Cantona.
“He’s been fantastic since he came into the side, and even yesterday [Sunday] when he didn’t do that much, what he did do was top quality,” the pundit said.
“That ball into Anthony Martial was outstanding. Fans are getting carried away, and I try not to, but I can certainly see why they are.
“Every club, every set of fans want to have a hero, and he’s going to be that for Man United. When he goes to take a corner, the fans are going wild for him, they love him, he can be a real hero.
“I’m talking a Paul Scholes or an Eric Cantona – he can be one of those types of heroes for the club. I’m not saying in terms of performances, or level of football, but United haven’t had a hero in their team for a long, long time.
“He can be that. He’s doing everything right at the moment, including the ‘shh’ gesture to Pep Guardiola, which was always going to be a sure way to win over the fans.
“It’s good to see someone joining with a bit of character, too.”
United‘s win over City was a crucial one in their hunt for a Champions League spot next season, keeping them on the toes of fourth-placed Cheslsea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side face another important week of fixtures, travelling to Austria for Thursday’s first leg of their Europa League last 16 clash against LASK before facing Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday.
Ince has insisted that Solskjaer should avoid making either competition a priority.
“It looks like Man United may have turned a corner, but the most important thing for them is still to make the Champions League,” he said.
“Whether that’s in fourth or fifth place, or by winning the Europa League. They shouldn’t just be aiming for one either, they should be aiming for both.
“It should be – as a team we can make top four, and we can win the Europa – not one or the other.”
In other news, the speculation surrounding Jude Bellingham has increased after reports emerged that he was at United’s Carrington training complex on Monday.
Birmingham teenager Bellingham, 16, has lit up the Championship this season and has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks.