Bruno Fernandes: Spaceman – The Athletic

Three months in the past, Manchester United have been humiliated in Erik ten Hag’s first Manchester derby. This time it was totally different.

In that 6-3 loss, United’s half-hearted urgent made them simple to play by means of and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City aren’t the form of facet that wants an invite. Since then, United’s group off the ball has been enhancing, from their line of defense to the urgent.

It was proven at Old Trafford when the groups met once more. The man-marking of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva by Fred and Casemiro stifled City’s sport as United’s slim entrance line pressed City’s centre-backs with Christian Eriksen transferring up in direction of Rodri.

This meant it was City’s full-backs, Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker, who have been free, however City couldn’t entry them quick sufficient to trigger United bother within the first half. That modified within the second half and thru the suitable facet City managed to take the lead as De Bruyne’s cross discovered Jack Grealish’s header.

Yet, if there’s one one who is aware of the place United’s menace will come from, it’s Guardiola.

“When you assault a bit of bit faster than it’s good to assault, they’ll assault you a lot, a lot faster,” he mentioned after his facet managed a powerful win at Old Trafford final season. “In the transitions, they’re much higher.”

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His phrases proved prophetic on Saturday, as two fast assaults after United regained possession gave them a lead they didn’t relinquish and ensured the title race took one other twist.

Central to these targets was Bruno Fernandes, who scored the equalizer (not with out some controversy) earlier than establishing the transfer that finally introduced the winner.

Alongside the pacy United forwards, Fernandes’ efforts on the transitions are sometimes forgotten. For all his creativity in regular possession sequences, the Portuguese nonetheless gives a menace on the transitions. His consciousness in these conditions, coupled along with his passing and directness in attacking the house, makes him invaluable on this section of play.

When United win the ball again, Fernandes is aware of which house to assault. In the win in opposition to Fulham, United’s first purpose got here from an offensive transition after Casemiro received the ball within the heart of the pitch. As the ball is reaching Anthony Martial, Fernandes makes a ahead run to supply a passing possibility, with Marcus Rashford transferring contained in the pitch.

Seeing Rashford is transferring inside and dragging Issa Diop with him, Fernandes continues his run to assault the house.

He is then discovered by Martial…

…and the Portuguese’s shot deflects off Diop, falling for Eriksen in opposition to an empty web. The Dane scores, however it’s essential to notice Fernandes’ choice concerning which house to assault on the transition. Knowing Diop will go inside with Rashford, Fernandes assaults the empty house on the surface of the Fulham defender.

This was additionally the case in his purpose in opposition to Tottenham. Again, it is a transition and Antony has the ball on the suitable. However, Fernandes is not wanting on the ball. He is wanting in entrance, to verify which house to assault. Rashford’s motion drags Eric Dier with him…

…and Fred’s motion poses a query for Cristian Romero as Matt Doherty remains to be monitoring again with Jadon Sancho near the Spurs proper wing-again. Fernandes sees the hole, and strikes on this route as he requires the go.

Antony’s go is a bit heavy, which permits Romero to intercept. But United regained the ball and Fernandes put it into the again of the web.

Fernandes’ cleverness when it comes to attacking the house makes him a very good possibility when United are breaking shortly into assault, and that was wanted in opposition to City. Although not on a transition, United’s fast assault after they regained possession caught Guardiola’s facet off guard, and led to the equalizer.

In the construct-as much as that purpose, Fernandes is within the heart circle as Aaron Wan-Bissaka finds Casemiro’s run on the suitable.

Before Casemiro controls the ball, Fernandes appears in entrance of him to see the place the areas are.

He notices that Rashford’s run strikes Manuel Akanji out of place, and accordingly begins his run into the house vacated by the City defender…

…and as he is doing that, he takes a glance over his left shoulder to have an concept of ​​Walker’s positioning.

Casemiro’s go right here might be supposed for Rashford, who’s in an offside place, however Fernandes’ run supplies a secondary possibility…

…and he scores to convey United again into the sport.

The different facet of Fernandes’ profile that makes him efficient on transitions is his imaginative and prescient and passing. Whenever United win the ball, he immediately tries to free himself or requires the ball if he’s in house.

In this instance in opposition to Nottingham Forest, Fernandes (yellow) instructs Rashford (crimson) to assault the house behind Forest’s proper-again, Serge Aurier, as United are beginning the transition.

This frees house for Fernandes to maneuver into as Tyrell Malacia performs the go into the United midfielder…

…and it additionally supplies a direct outlet in Rashford. Fernandes then performs the ball over the Forest protection and into the trail of Rashford. From this transition, United scored their second purpose of the sport as Rashford arrange Martial for a shot from the sting of the field.

In one other purpose on the transition, Fernandes’ scanning offers him a bonus as soon as he’s in flight. As Eriksen is receiving the go from Diogo Dalot, Fernandes appears over his proper shoulder and notices Rashford is getting ready to make a ahead run.

So, when Eriksen performs the go into Fernandes…

…he already is aware of the place his subsequent go might be. The United midfielder cuts by means of the Arsenal protection with a by means of ball that places Rashford in a one-versus-one state of affairs, and the England ahead scores to make it 2-1.

This could possibly be clearly seen within the derby as effectively. Fernandes’ passes on the transitions have been essential to United’s assault, and in the end introduced the winner.

In this instance within the first half, Fernandes is wanting over his shoulder to acquire details about Martial and Rashford’s positioning as United win the ball again inside their penalty field.

This earlier information of the place his attackers are implies that as soon as the ball reaches Fernandes…

…he solely takes two touches earlier than discovering Martial’s run behind the City protection.

That assault would not result in a harmful probability, however an identical one later within the half may have put United forward. Here, Casemiro begins the United transition by profitable the ball again within the midfield. As the Brazilian is taking part in the ball into Fernandes, Rashford begins his run into house…

…and the Portuguese solely takes two touches to search out him.

Rashford then rounded Ederson, just for Akanji to cease his shot from getting in.

In the top, it was a Fernandes go on the transition that sealed the sport for United.

After Ten Hag’s facet wins the ball, Alejandro Garnacho shortly makes a ahead run into the house behind Walker as Fernandes is scanning the opposite facet of the pitch. The Portuguese is already conscious of Garnacho’s run as that is the place the route of play was when United received the ball again. Fred then controls the unfastened ball…

…earlier than taking part in it into the trail of Fernandes whereas Garnacho continues his run on the left facet.

As Fernandes has information of the positioning of Antony and Garnacho, he performs a one-contact go into the Argentinian who later assists Rashford’s winner.

Fernandes’ choice-making on the transitions is vital to United’s menace on this section of play, and it was important within the victory on derby day. If he maintains his high-quality kind, who is aware of the place he may take United this season?


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