EPL

Bruno Fernandes creates chances without touching the ball – Solskjaer

By Sports Desk March 06, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not concerned by Bruno Fernandes' waning impact in Manchester United's attack, believing his team-mates can profit from the midfielder's mere presence.

Fernandes has not provided a goal or an assist in his past three appearances in all competitions, each of which have seen United held to goalless draws.

Prior to his mini barren run, the Portugal international had averaged 3.8 shots and 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes, enjoying 83.4 touches, including 3.6 in the opposition box.

Over the three games since scoring and assisting against Newcastle United, he has averaged two shots and 2.8 chances per 90, touching the ball in the area at the same rate but seeing his overall involvement drop to 72.4 touches.

It is only a slight drop-off from Fernandes' lofty standards, but combined with United's underwhelming run – they have not had a single 'big chance' since their two against Newcastle – it has prompted discussion.

Solskjaer is not worried, however, calling on his other United stars to step up, starting against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

"We expect everyone to be a leader, everyone to take that responsibility," Solskjaer said.

"Of course it might be Bruno, but I know that teams are trying to man-mark him at times and that's not a dig at anyone.

"That's just that sometimes in football they try to stop your best player. And someone else will have to step forward.

"Bruno might find a position, make space for others, create. He has created chances for others even when he has not touched the ball. And you see others have created chances for Bruno when they've not touched the ball.

"It's about the movement and creating space for your team-mate and taking that responsibility.

"We have had big moments in big games recently. Chances that we would normally put away and then everyone is rosy, everyone says we are the best thing since sliced bread.

"The away game against Chelsea wasn't far away from being almost a perfect away game. We should have had a penalty, we should have got the last counter-attack, one last pass away from winning the game.

"It is about taking the big moments and having some luck in the big moments."

Since Fernandes made his United debut in February 2020, he has been involved in 54 goals in all competitions, ranking third across Europe's 'top five' leagues behind only Robert Lewandowski (74) and Lionel Messi (60).

Only that superstar duo and former United sensation Cristiano Ronaldo have attempted more shots than Fernandes' 202.

Meanwhile, he tops the charts for chances created (158) over that span, just ahead of City's Kevin De Bruyne (156).

Related items

  • PSG deserved to win, insists Pochettino after Nice stalemate PSG deserved to win, insists Pochettino after Nice stalemate

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino insisted the Ligue 1 leaders deserved to win as he was left to rue missed opportunities after his side were held to a goalless draw by Nice.

    Runaway Ligue 1 pacesetters PSG were denied victory at Parc des Princes for the first time this season in all competitions following Wednesday's stalemate.

    PSG registered 22 shots on goal – their highest tally without scoring in Ligue 1 since March 2016, with Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe going closest to finding the back of the net, but were unable to break down their stubborn opponents.

    Indeed, it was the first time in 18 Ligue 1 meetings that Nice had prevented PSG from finding the net.

    But Pochettino – who has been heavily linked with Manchester United – felt PSG's performance was worthy of more than a share of the spoils as Lionel Messi fired a blank after claiming a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or.

    "We got chances, but we didn't score. We deserved to win," Pochettino said. "It happens sometimes; the ball doesn't go in, sometimes there's a good goalkeeper. 

    "These are things that you have to accept throughout the season. I am satisfied with the defensive performance of the team. 

    "We are improving little by little. We are first in Ligue 1 and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League. 

    "We must continue to improve to be ready for the decisive moments."

    Messi attempted six shots (one on target) against Nice, his highest tally without scoring in the league since April 2021 (seven with Barcelona against Real Madrid).

    PSG conceded their first 0-0 home draw in Ligue 1 since February 2017 (against Toulouse). This is their first home draw in the top flight since November 2020 (2-2 against Bordeaux), ending a run of 20 games at home without sharing points (W16 L4).

  • Lillard out for 10 days with abdominal injury Lillard out for 10 days with abdominal injury

    Damian Lillard has been ruled out for at least 10 days with an abdominal injury, the Portland Trail Blazers confirmed on Wednesday. 

    The All-Star point guard has been managing the injury all season and sat out Tuesday's 110-92 win over the Detroit Pistons. 

    An MRI scan confirmed Lillard was suffering from lower abdominal tendinopathy. He will be evaluated again in 10 days, ruling him out of games against the San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. 

    The Blazers star is averaging 21.5 points per game this season – his worst record since the 2015-16 campaign – while shooting 39.7 per cent from the floor and just 30.2 per cent from three-point range. They would both represent career lows for a season. 

    Portland also confirmed that Nasir Little would miss a week of action with a left ankle sprain. 

  • Ibrahimovic ready to re-sign with Milan: I'm having fun and feel young Ibrahimovic ready to re-sign with Milan: I'm having fun and feel young

    Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to re-sign with the Scudetto-chasing Rossoneri after his latest goalscoring exploits for the Serie A high-flyers.

    Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a stunning first-half free-kick in Wednesday's 3-0 victory at Genoa, a result that moved Milan within a point of leaders Napoli, who squandered a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo.

    The victory was a welcome return to form for Milan, having gone from unbeaten domestically to licking their wounds following back-to-back league defeats.

    Milan head coach Stefano Pioli signed a contract extension last week and Ibrahimovic wants to be the next to put pen to paper as the evergreen 40-year-old eyes silverware with the club.

    "I have fun, before the match, we had already decided how long I would have played," Ibrahimovic said to Sky Sport Italia after the match. "These guys make me have fun and feel young.

    "We had made errors that cost us the previous two games. It was all our fault, not our opponents' merit, but we won today and we remain up there.

    "Now I have to renew. I am happy for [Pioli] because he deserves [his contract extension], if he renews, I renew. Pioli has done a great job.

    "I am happy for the fans. For so many years, they have not enjoyed as they are enjoying now. I want to make them happy, but if we don't win a trophy we haven't done anything."

    Ibrahimovic's goal was his 153rd goal in Serie A, drawing level with Stefano Nyers and Hernan Crespo in 26th place among the top scorers in the Italian competition.

    His 73 league goals for Milan also took Swedish forward Ibrahimovic to 10th in Milan's standings, alongside Filippo Inzaghi.

    Once Pioli had penned his own terms, the 56-year-old revealed that Ibrahimovic wasted no time in contacting him to ask for a new contract. 

    The Milan boss praised his team's performance against Genoa, particularly the connection between Ibrahimovic and his team-mates.

    "Zlatan is the only player who sent me a message as soon as I signed my contract," Pioli said to Sky Sport Italia. "It said congratulations, Mister, now sort mine out!

    "That's Zlatan for you! This is a season that can give us satisfaction, I don't know how far we can go.

    "We played with intensity and determination for the whole game this evening and unfortunately we are not a team that can do the bare minimum. We've got to give it our all, or we are not superior to the opposition.

    "The arrival of Zlatan improved everything, certainly, but his team-mates also did well to accept his way of motivating them.

    "At the same time, Zlatan has to thank his team-ates, because he has come back to being the great player he was a few years ago. It's give and take for them both."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.