Manchester United have four players to convince Bruno Fernandes of squad’s winning mentality
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists he would be open to moving for an influential mid-season target in the mould of Bruno Fernandes but does not expect Manchester United to pull off such a coup two years running.
After much deliberation, United eventually completed the signing of Fernandes, 26, from Sporting Lisbon in a £67.6million deal last January and they did not lose a Premier League game for the rest of the season following the Portuguese’s arrival.
Fernandes has become the benchmark of modern mid-season signings but the nadir of United’s recruitment since Sir Alex Ferguson retired was the January 2018 acquisition of the worn out Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in a swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Solskjaer has settled on a core squad of 22 players this season and is not short of playmakers to come in for Fernandes, with summer signing Donny van de Beek and the evergreen Juan Mata available. United are not planning on another significant new year investment, though.
“The situation is different now from a year ago, so it’s unlikely something is going to happen,” Solskjaer said. “But you’re right: Bruno came in and has had a great impact, made us a better team and he’s become a better player as well. If there was something out there that was nailed on I wouldn’t say no but it’s likely nothing is going to happen.”
Solskjaer believes the United dressing room is becoming ‘louder’ with the team level on points with Liverpool ahead of their game in hand at Burnley on Tuesday night. Fernandes expressed his frustration at a fourth semi-final defeat within a year following Manchester City’s 2-0 victory at Old Trafford last week and the United squad is short of Premier League title winners.
Only David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones – excluded from United’s domestic squad – have Premier League winner’s medals but Solskjaer believes other members of the squad are helping to foster a winning mentality.
“We need to get points against Burnley before anyone can say that you are top of the table,” Solskjaer stressed. “But that is a position that we have put ourselves in, so I would like to think that we go into this game not thinking about where we will end up tomorrow night in the table but where we can end up in the table in May. That’s what matters.
“You accumulate the points throughout the season so if at one point you think, ‘ah we’ve made it now, we have cracked it’, and you relax, that is when it’s going to hit you back. So we are very focused.
“We have some good characters in the team, the dressing room is louder, it’s more vocal. Of course, with the experience of Nemanja Matic, who has won it a couple of times, David [de Gea], Juan Mata, Edinson [Cavani].
“Bruno coming in, I think he wants to feel part of a team that is going to be challenging for trophies. We have more players that can grab the situation.”