Bruno Fernandes stood up for Erik ten Hag on the pitch, and so it was no surprise that Ten Hag stood up for Fernandes afterwards. Another turbulent week at Old Trafford had ended with Fernandes scoring the only goal at Fulham in added time and Ten Hag launched a vigorous defence of his mercurial playmaker.
It was Fernandes’s third late winner of the season and a response of sorts to his critics. “I don’t understand why,” said Ten Hag of the criticism Fernandes has received, with former players in the media suggesting he should be stripped of the captaincy. “Everyone has their mistakes, no one is perfect. But always when he plays he gives energy.
Fernandes’s late strike gives Manchester United timely win at FulhamRead more
“He is an example. You see the way he is pressing and counter‑pressing, his recovery. He always wants the ball, he wants to create.
“In this week we were definitely not happy with our standards. Today we improved a little bit, but to win every game you have to bring that level, show you are hungry and passionate inside. When we bring that we will have very good results.”
Fernandes acknowledged the pressure of the past week, with consecutive 3-0 home defeats by Manchester City and Newcastle, but argued that this performance demonstrated the resolve in the squad. “Everyone knows the situation is not the best,” he said. “The last two games weren’t the performances we want to give. We had to deliver something different, and we delivered. It was a game where everyone sacrificed and everyone ran, everyone worked harder.” Or as Scott McTominay put it: “You have to come together and fight like dogs.”
For all United’s industry there remain numerous areas of concern, with their starting front three of Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Højlund and Antony again failing to score. The trio now have 22 league appearances between them this season without registering a single goal or assist. “It’s clear, we expect that from them, and we are confident they will do it,” Ten Hag said.
The manager said the absence of Marcus Rashford from the match‑day squad was due to a minor injury rather than the disciplinary fallout from his decision to host a birthday party on the night of the 3-0 defeat to City last Sunday. “He had some complaints after training [on Friday],” he said. “It was a risk to start him, because you can lose him for more weeks, and we have many more important games to play.”
The first comes on Wednesday, as United travel to FC Copenhagen with their Champions League campaign hanging in the balance.
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