Bruno Fernandes looks set to become the club captain of Manchester United next season, but Graeme Souness insists he’s no leader – ‘it’s as plain as the nose on the end of your face’.
Fernandes has worn the captain’s armband through much of Erik ten Hag’s first season with current club skipper Harry Maguire having to watch the majority from the sidelines.
The Portuguese playmaker’s quality has never been in doubt, and he’s continued to produce magnificent numbers this season.
But frequently criticised by pundits for a perceived poor attitude as he throws his arms in the air and vents his frustrations at his teammates.
That was particularly evident in United’s 7-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool, and Souness used Fernandes’ “appalling” attitude in that game to evidence why he’s “obviously not a leader”.
Souness told William Hill: “Bruno Fernandes is obviously not a leader, it’s as plain as the nose on the end of your face. His attitude when they went 3-0 down at Liverpool was appalling. You certainly would not want to be in the trenches with him.
“When you become a captain of a football team it’s about setting an example on the pitch and off it. To have a successful football club, you need good senior players and professionals. I look at myself when I walked through the door in Liverpool, how I changed in the seven years I was there, and what I was like when I left. I wasn’t the best player when I walked through the door, but I learned from some very serious football players, and seven years later when I become a senior, I like to think that I passed that information on.
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“In the case of Bruno, you’ll see him be a star when you’re on top of the opposition and on the front foot, and he can be a real talent, but he showed a side to him that day at Anfield which was very unattractive. Erik ten Hag has then chosen to overlook it because he knows going forward that Bruno will win him games and score goals. But he’ll think, the next time he comes up against a really difficult situation, is he going to go missing? I think he already knows the answer to that.”
“I think the fact that Erik ten Hag backed Bruno up is another example of modern management – the tail wags the dog in football these days. There’s only one club in the country where that doesn’t happen and that’s Manchester City, where the manager is all-powerful, and the players respect him.
“City right now have the best group of players that I have ever known in my 50 years in the English game. There are players in there that lead from the front. You only actually ever need one to lead from the front and the rest will pile in behind. When they make a substitution, other than with Ederson, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, it’s a like for like in terms of quality.
“The best players are often the ones that you don’t have to spend time on, you just guide them, and you don’t really have to have any harsh words with them. Part of the reason they are top players is because they realise when you should be training harder, what you should be doing on a match day, and no one needs to tell you that, so in that respect the manager has an easier ride.”
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