Erik ten Hag has defended Bruno Fernandes‘ recent performances but does feel that the midfielder can add more goals and assists to his game.
As reported in The Athletic, Ten Hag made his comments in his pre-match press conference before United’s game against Tottenham Hotspur this evening.
Speaking on Fernandes, the boss said he is very happy with how the Portuguese has started the season.
“I think Bruno is playing really good this season. In transition, both sides, he is doing magnificent. I am really happy with his performances.””
When quizzed on whether United’s midfield is contributing enough goals to the team, Ten Hag added that he feels the 28-year-old can produce a higher output but still his all-round game is at a high level.
“In that fact, he can produce more goals and assists. But he is often in the line of the goal and he is playing a massive role in a lot of moments football for us in building up, creativity and movement.” he said.
Although Ten Hag remains upbeat, the former Sporting Lisbon star’s numbers have drastically fallen in the last 12-18 months and he’s only scored once in his thirteen appearances so far this season.
The dip has been consistent with his lower numbers last year, where the midfielder struck just ten times. When compared to his electric first full campaign, which saw him net 28 times, the drop-off becomes massive.
Fernandes was a revelation in his first season and it may be a case that he over-performed in his early days, rather than under-performing at present.
However, the Portugal international has cut a frustrated figure at times this season, which further strengthens the argument that he isn’t currently performing to his maximum potential.
The attacking midfielder has taken over the captaincy in Harry Maguire‘s absence and continues to be the lynchpin of the team and every attacking move ends up going through him. If Fernandes plays well, the team usually wins.
Despite the praise, Ten Hag will be desperate for the midfielder to get close to his first season’s numbers as soon as possible, to boost United’s attacking threat as goals have been hard to come by so far.
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