Is Fernandes the Derby Wild Card?

Sunday’s Manchester derby, the fourth instalment of this season’s rivalry, offers United the chance to do the Premier League double over the old enemy. That famous win at the Etihad at the start of December dealt another blow to City’s faltering title hopes and with their rivals facing a European ban and the loss of their Premier League title, United’s players have a great chance to turn the screw, at the same time significantly boosting their own top-four prospects.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are in great form and when placing a bet on the Red Devils and picking the best rated sign-up betting offers, United fans will notice that the team’s odds on securing a top four place are shrinking all the time. Six games undefeated in Premier League and Europa League since the start of February have taken United to the last 16 in Europe and have narrowed the gap behind fourth-placed Chelsea to just three points, with a superior goal difference.

And there’s no doubt that one of the biggest factors in United’s February revival has been the arrival of midfielder Bruno Fernandes. Signed for a reported £67.6 million from Sporting, Fernandes made his United debut on February 1st in the Premier League game against Wolves, and any doubts about his ability to quickly adapt to English football were displayed with a confident display, in which he looked at ease in his surroundings and twice tested the Wolves goalkeeper with long-range efforts.

Prior to his arrival, United were suffering from a number of problems, including a lack of urgency and creativity in midfield and a lack of goals, as both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial struggled for form and fluency. But it seems that Fernandes has solved all of those problems at once!

An energetic presence, he has formed an impressive double act with midfielder Fred. The two seem to be on the same wavelength and have turned the centre of the United midfield from a cause for concern to the engine room of the team. Fernandes’ ability to get forward, to create chances and to find the net himself have also helped to take some of the pressure off the United forward line, giving opposing defences another headache when United have the ball.

But it isn’t just up front where Fernandes has brought more edge to the United game. He adds a much-needed competitive spirit to the squad and in his appearances so far has been as likely to be seen helping out the defence as he is in breaking from midfield to get into the area. That competitive spirit and willingness to work hard has quickly endeared him to United fans. It may also hasten the eventual departure of Paul Pogba from Old Trafford, although Solskjaer will most likely want to see if he can find a way to integrate Pogba and Fernandes together into the United midfield.

In the short term however, Fernandes and United fans alike will be relishing his first Manchester derby, and he is sure to get a rapturous reception from the Stretford End faithful. And there is a real prospect of Fernandes making a difference in this game. With City weakened at the back, the possibility that they may also be missing Kevin De Bruyne means that the stage is set for Fernandes to dominate the midfield areas and to help steer United to huge win.

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