Fernandes has been ever-present in Erik ten Hag’s starting XI this season, starting and completing every Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup game he has been available for – missing the goalless draw with Liverpool through suspension.
Former United skipper Keane however has concerns over the current captain’s freedom across the pitch, a trait he believes Fernandes has been afforded throughout his career.
The former midfielder claims the Portugal international can ‘get away with it’ when United are performing well but when his old side are struggling, it becomes a huge issue.
‘If you watch him [Bruno Fernandes] at international level, he does the same [with floating around in different positions],’ Keane told Stick to Football.
‘It can’t all be the coaches and managers. There is a player out there and if he’s doing all that stuff and producing magic, you almost forgive him.
‘But if you’re in a struggling team and you’re doing all that stuff, that’s where it stands out and you go “you’re killing us, you’re costing us”.
‘I reckon if you look back at his career, he’s done it in every team. It’s a trait – it’s not as if he’s an experienced player – leopards and spots.
‘He’ll get away with it if [Manchester] United were winning more matches and he was producing his bits of magic, which he has done before.’
Another former United captain Gary Neville agrees Fernandes is afforded too much freedom, comparing him to a no10 ‘from 20 years ago’ and insisting he was not be given the same licence to roam playing under Pep Guardiola.
‘Any team that is anything at all, you see repeated pass patterns and combinations,’ Neville said. ‘I think about Bruno Fernandes, and I watched him on Sunday, he’s obviously the best player in terms of talent – but he’s everywhere.
‘He must be being told to go and do what he wants. I don’t think Bruno Fernandes is that type of guy. If, for Pep Guardiola, a player plays out of position for a minute or two, he’s on the sideline saying, “Get back into your position”, and I think Ten Hag is giving him the freedom to go everywhere, and actually that means you can never have a combination or a pattern – when you’ve got your main midfield player everywhere on the pitch.
‘It’s almost like 20 years ago, where your number 10 was given licence to play. That’s gone now, you have to fit within a combination and pattern system and attacking shape, and that’s the bit that I think Bruno is told he must be able to go everywhere.
‘I never see Ten Hag going up to him and telling him to get back into position.’
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