Bruno Fernandes does not yet compare the Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, according to Steve Bruce, despite the Newcastle boss admitting he’s a huge admirer of the Portuguese star.
Such has been his brilliance, that he even had Paul Scholes smiling on Thursday night after a clinical display in Turin.
The impact he has made has been likened to when Cantona joined the Red Devils nearly 30 years ago. His £1.2m signing from Leeds was credited as Sir Alex Ferguson’s best business at Old Trafford. The Frenchman’s signing helping bring around a period of sustained success.
Bruce recognises how influential Fernandes has been since moving to Old Trafford. However, he feels the attacking midfielder can only be put alongside his former United teammate by bringing trophies to the club.
“What you have to judge people on over a period of time is what they’ve won. Certainly, Eric for us, was the catalyst to go and win things,” Bruce said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford.
“The way Fernandes has played in the last 12 months, it feels a bit like Eric because it’s his stage. Eric adored everything that went with playing for arguably the biggest and best club in the world.
“Fernandes has done fantastically well in doing that, it’s his stage. For it to be even suggested that he’s on the same hymn sheet as Eric is a wonderful compliment to him.
“Now they have to go and achieve and win things the way Eric did, and on big occasions win cup finals and semi-finals. If he does that then of course you can compare him to Eric.”
To be fair to Fernandes, winning trophies is something he recognises too.
Asked for his thoughts on racking up a double in the 4-0 win over Real Sociedad, Fernandes revealed his main aims for the season.
“Tonight the result and the peformance was good,” he said. “We need to understand we have to grow and improve as a side. We did that tonight.
“My target is to score the most goals I can and try to assist my teammates to score to. That’s my position. But if you ask me for my target, my target is to win trophies – that is more important than scoring goals.”
Bruce on Callum Wilson absence
Bruce will again be without top-scorer Callum Wilson and defensive trio Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and Javi Manquillo due to injuries this weekend, but midfielder Jeff Hendrick is available after serving a suspension.
Wilson has been instrumental for the Magpies this season, scoring 10 of their 25 league goals, although Bruce is optimistic his absence for an unspecified period of time because of a hamstring problem can be overcome.
“He’s our centre-forward and been crucial to us this season. We’re going to have to do without him for a few weeks and that’s the way it is but I’m quietly confident we can do it,” Bruce added.
Dwight Gayle made his first start of the season as he replaced Wilson up front in Monday’s defeat at Chelsea. The result left the Magpies 17th in the table ahead of the fixture against United.
The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season. Bruce, however, is staying tight-lipped about the striker’s future beyond the end of this term.
“There are a number of players with contracts up and Dwight’s one of them,” Bruce added.
“There will be conversations to be had over the next few weeks, I’m sure. But we are in the middle of Covid and trying to secure our Premier League place, so discussions will be ongoing.”