According to Paul Parker, who says the Manchester United midfielder has improved his game after “dented Paul Pogba’s ego” of the €55 million (£49m/$67m) player last year, Bruno Fernandes “playing in the shadow”
After finishing a big-money move to United from Sporting CP in January 2019, Fernandes recently identified himself as a talismanic figure at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese inspired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to finish last term in third position in the Premier League, scoring eight goals and seven assists in his first 14 club outings.
He built on that foundation to spearhead this season’s title tilt for the Red Devils, emerging as one of the division’s most prominent players and a candidate in the process for the PFA Player of the Year trophy.
In recent matches, however, the performance of Fernandes in the final third has slipped, with Pogba stepping up to make the difference instead during critical victories over Burnley and Fulham.
Since returning from Juventus to Manchester for £ 89m ($ 122m) back in 2016, the Frenchman, who has largely flattered to deceive, scored impressive winning goals in both of those fixtures but seems to have regained his best form after overcoming a bout of coronavirus and a host of niggling fitness problems.
Parker claims that the improved results of Pogba resulted from a determined reluctance to be overshadowed by Fernandes, and he called on the winner of the World Cup to retain his current standard as United to win their first domestic crown since 2013.
The former Red Devils defender told Eurosport, “In 2020 he was been playing in the shadow of Fernandes and that will have dented his ego,”
Pogba was signed for a large fee; Manchester United matched his marketability and profile – as well as his playing ability.
But being an outstanding footballer is the best profile you will ever get, and although Fernandes came in with a much lower profile, his status has outgrown Pogba’s, and for the right reasons: he’s brilliant at the top of the tree.
And you can’t beat the competition. If competition comes along in every industry and you just sulk about it, then you’re not going to succeed. To get respect, you have to change.
When he arrived, Fernandes soon became the main man and it became Manchester United and Fernandes, not Pogba. For the wrong reasons, it was Pogba before, now it’s Fernandes for goals and assists.
“United need that from Pogba now to compete for the league, for him to not drop below a 7/10 in any game.”
This weekend, when they come up against Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup, United will put their title hopes on the backburner, and Parker wants to see Solskjaer give a message of intent by going all out for the Old Trafford win.