Bruno Fernandes has revealed he was bizarrely advised to play as a central defender as a young player.
Fernandes has been Manchester United’s creative fulcrum since his arrival in January, regularly contributing goals and assists from an attacking midfield position.
The Portuguese playmaker returned to his decisive best in the crucial victory over Everton before the international break which alleviated pressure on United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Fernandes has a natural goalscoring instinct that he has repeatedly shown through his spell at Sporting Lisbon and short time at United.
But his career could have panned out very differently had he continued to listen to the advice of a former coach.
I played central defender for the most part, when I started playing football, either central defence or right-back, club’s official website. he told the UTD Podcast, as quoted by the
“I liked to play as a right-back because I was aggressive at the time, I was that guy who wanted to give tackles and everything. As a central defender, I was the free one, being prepared to follow the wingers if the right-back wasn’t there and all that.
“I was really good, I had a coach who said to me, ‘If you want to be a top player, you will need to play as a central defender. If you want to be a good player, you will be a midfielder.
I think he was wrong but, maybe as a central defender, I could be much better, I don’t know! At the time I didn’t like to play there, but everyone was saying I was a good defender, they said I was smart, that I covered the sides, but, at one point, I had the chance to go to the team a year-group older than me and I said to the coach look, I don’t want to play central defence any more, but if I have to play central defence, I would prefer to go back and play as a midfielder with the guys my age.
“But when I joined that team, the coach looked at the list of players, and because some were on vacation he said, ‘Oh we have no strikers’ and I said ‘I’m a striker!’ He said, ‘I thought you were a central defender’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t play there any more, I’m a striker!’ So he gave me one try-out in training, I scored twice and he said ‘okay, you can play a striker!’
So he played me as striker in one game, then, in the second game, I was like a ‘fake 9’ with two strikers, and after that I moved back to no.10 and no.8.
Fernandes is a leader who is tenacious in the tackle so it’s clear to see why he could have been effective in defence in his youth.
But his natural ability on the ball is matched by very few in the Premier League and his talents very much lend himself to United’s number 10 position.
The 26-year-old has five goals and two assists already in the league this season as he has once again proved to be totemic despite United’s indifferent start.
Fernandes will almost certainly start for the Reds when they take on West Brom at Old Trafford next Saturday after the international break.