Paul Scholes believes Manchester United are still behind despite the addition of the "brilliant" Bruno Fernandes.

After arriving from Sporting CP in January, Fernandes had scored twice and provided three assists in five Premier League games before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A United great, Scholes said there was no doubting the Portugal international had added the quality his former club had been lacking.

"The one thing with Bruno is he doesn't look like a central midfielder to me, he's an out and out number 10," the former England international told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He's great on the ball, always on the half turn and he's the link that United really needed.

"They lacked that quality in midfield and since he came in he's had that. He can feed the ball in to players, he's got a great shot on him and he looks like a real leader as well. United had lacked that.

"Whether he can play in midfield in a two, that's yet to be seen. He's more like an Eric Cantona, a Teddy Sheringham – he can beat players as well. He is somebody who brings what was sadly missing at Old Trafford and he seems to have livened up everyone. The team is playing well and they look like scoring goals."

When the season was suspended, United were fifth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Scholes feels Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are still trailing the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, who held a 25-point lead at the top.

"They are still behind, but they have bought a brilliant player in who seems to have knitted it all together," he said. "They did have a really good group of players but missed that one person who can make a difference – like a David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne who can glue the team together with their attacking movements.

"I still think they are a bit off the pace, they've looked good lately since Fernandes came in but Liverpool and Manchester City are streets ahead.

"There are three or four signings that can help but for the first time in a long time you feel like they could close the gap to the top."

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes joked he is the new Juan Sebastian Veron after sporting a goatee while isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

While a number of players have shaved their heads due to social distancing policies during the coronavirus pandemic making it tricky to get a professional trim, Fernandes has only taken the razor to his facial hair.

United team-mate Diogo Dalot teased him by tweeting that he now looked like a character in Netflix drama Narcos.

However, Fernandes believes his new look shared greater similarities with a former United player.

"We've found the new Juan Sebastian Veron! But the hair, the hair needs to stay," he told MUTV.

Fernandes has quickly become a key figure since arriving at United from Sporting CP in January in a deal worth £67.6million (€80m).

The Portugal international is yet to taste defeat in his nine appearances for the club and has contributed three goals and four assists.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's backing has been important to him since he arrived at Old Trafford, but he says he would have been ready to give "200 per cent" to force himself into the manager's plans in different circumstances.

"For me, the most important was obviously the confidence of the coach. I need to know I am backed from the coach, because sometimes when you change club, not every time the coach wants you," said Fernandes.

"Not like I need to come because the coach wants me to play, no, not like this, but I want to feel the confidence from the coach: 'You come, you are a choice for me and you come. I need you, I want you.'

"It's not like you come and I ask, 'But I will play?' No, this for me is not the point. For me, the point is the confidence he has in me. If he has confidence in me, then the rest is working."

He continued: "I feel the confidence from the club and I feel also the confidence from the coach, Ole, and also if maybe the choice was not from the coach, I come.

"I come and I will show to the coach I can play, I can be a choice for him, because sometimes you need to press yourself to be better and give more.

"Maybe if I come and I am not the choice for the coach, I will know I need to give not 100 per cent, 200 per cent, because the coach needs to see, he needs to see me, he needs to understand that I need to play, I want to play more than the others.

"In your mind, you want to play more than the others, but the others are thinking the same way with you.

"This is the confidence we need to have to keep improving, to keep training more and the healthy battles you need in the team. You are competing with someone, this one, this one and this one.

"You need to give more than him and he will be thinking the same way with me and then, if you're thinking the same way, you can be much better. Me and him.

"It doesn't matter who plays, you will train better, I will train better and so the team will be better."

Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson likened star midfielder Bruno Fernandes to club great Paul Scholes.

Fernandes has taken United by storm since arriving from Portuguese side Sporting CP in January, scoring three goals across all competitions prior to the postponement of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A pair of goals and three assists earned Fernandes the Premier League Player of the Month in February before scooping United's Player of the Month award for March.

Robson heaped praise on the 25-year-old Portugal international following his flying start to life in Manchester.

"Since he came in he has looked a special player. He has a fantastic attitude", Robson told talkSPORT. "I have met him a few times, I have seen him at the training ground, he mixes really well with the lads, you can see why he was captain of Sporting [Lisbon] and what a talent he is.

"He is not like a Roy Keane, Paul Ince or a Nicky Butt-type of player, for me, he is more like a Paul Scholes; he is brilliant at getting into little pockets in between the defence and the midfield, he gets into these areas and gets himself space.

"But he has also got terrific vision where he sees a pass but he can also perform a pass like Paul Scholes could, and he can score a goal.

"Hopefully he proves me right and he goes on to be another Paul Scholes for Manchester United."

 

Bruno Fernandes has added Manchester United's Player of the Month award for March to his list of accolades since arriving at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international, who joined United for €55m from Sporting CP in January, has made a brilliant start to his Red Devils career and was named the Premier League Player of the Month in February.

Since then he scored his second Premier League goal for the club as United drew with Everton and contributed assists in the 2-0 win over Manchester City and the 5-0 Europa League thrashing of LASK.

The 25-year-old has scored three goals in nine games for United, and fended off competition from Odion Ighalo, Harry Maguire and Fred to be selected as March's Player of the Month by supporters.

Fernandes' strike against Everton was his first for the club from open play and he was instrumental to a strong United performance at Goodison Park.

Having already endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful, he cemented his place as a fan favourite with another superb display against City, playing in Anthony Martial for United's opener after half an hour.

It was a Fernandes pass that teed up Ighalo to score a memorable goal against LASK, and before the coronavirus pandemic caused the season to be put on hold the talismanic midfielder was helping to turn United's turbulent season around.

It might have taken a long time to be completed, but Manchester United's signing of Bruno Fernandes is beginning to look like one of this season's best pieces of business.

While the player himself insists he is not responsible for an upturn in form that has seen the Red Devils go 11 games unbeaten in all competitions, few can deny the impact he has made since joining in January for an initial fee of £46.5million (€55m).

In fact, his form saw him rewarded with the Premier League Player of the Month award for February, making him the first United player since Anthony Martial to win the prize for the month of his debut.

The 25-year-old is also the first Portuguese player to win the award since Chelsea midfielder Deco in August 2008.

As Opta data shows, Fernandes deserves the plaudits for his first five Premier League performances...

- Since his debut on February 1, Fernandes has been involved in five Premier League goals, scoring twice and assisting a further three. No other player can match that tally over the same period. The closest are Mohamed Salah (four goals), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (three goals, one assist), Diogo Jota (three goals, one assist), Robert Snodgrass (two goals, two assists), Sadio Mane (three goals, one assist) and Nicolas Pepe (one goal, three assists).

3 - Indeed, no player has managed more Premier League assists since February 1 than Fernandes. Pepe, Roberto Firmino and Ross Barkley are the other players on three.

19 - Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fernandes is top of the charts for attempted shots since his debut. He has recorded 19, as many as Raul Jimenez and Jay Rodriguez and more than Calvert-Lewin and Salah (both 17).

11 - Fernandes has created 11 chances for team-mates (including assists), the same number as Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ondrej Duda and Andrew Robertson. Only three players have recorded more since his debut: Joao Moutinho (12), Dwight McNeil (13) and James Maddison (16).

20 - Fernandes is the 20th different United player to win a Premier League Player of the Month award. That tally is the joint-best in the competition, alongside Arsenal.

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has won the Premier League Player of the Month award for February.

The Portugal star has made just five appearances in England's top flight since joining the Red Devils from Sporting CP for an initial fee of £46.5million (€55m).

The 25-year-old has made a flying start to his United career, though, registering three goals and four assists in his first nine appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

In league games last month, he impressed on debut in a draw with Wolves before assisting Harry Maguire's goal in a 2-0 win at Chelsea.

Fernandes then registered a goal and an assist in the 3-0 defeat of Watford, earning the latest Player of the Month prize.

He is the 20th different United player to claim the award and the first from Portugal since Deco in 2008.

He also follows in the footsteps of Anthony Martial, who was the previous United player to win the prize in his first month in the Premier League back in 2015.

"Since I was a kid it was a dream to play for Man United, and to be there at Old Trafford is the biggest dream of my career," Fernandes said after collecting his award.

"When you come to a new club you always want to score, and the first goal is special. It doesn't matter how the goal is scored, but important is the goal's worth.

"I'm happy with my start, but from now I need to give more, to be better."

Fernandes beat Marcos Alonso, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Matt Doherty and Nick Pope to the February award.

The 2019-20 Premier League campaign has been suspended at least until April 3 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been 1,372 confirmed cases of the virus and 35 deaths in the United Kingdom, prompting a pause in the football season.

The disruption comes with Liverpool just two wins away from a first league title in 30 years, while Manchester United are improving in pursuit of Champions League qualification.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the most interesting facts relating to England's 'Big Six' and their campaigns so far.


LIVERPOOL

- Jurgen Klopp's side are top of the pile but do not look as defensively solid as they did in the 2018-19 season. Liverpool have conceded 21 times in the league so far this term, just one goal fewer than in their entire previous 38-game campaign.

- Roberto Firmino finally ended a long wait for an Anfield goal against Atletico Madrid this week. It was his first home Liverpool strike in 20 games in all competitions since netting against Porto in April 2019, 337 days earlier.

- The Reds were just starting to wobble slightly. With the reverse at home to Atletico, Liverpool have lost four of their past six matches in all competitions – as many defeats as in their previous 67 games.


MANCHESTER CITY

- Manchester City have lost seven Premier League games this season, one more than they had in their previous two campaigns combined.

- Heading into the break, Sergio Aguero had scored 180 Premier League goals for Manchester City. Only Wayne Rooney - 183 for United - has scored more for a single team in the competition's history, with Aguero passing Thierry Henry - 175 for Arsenal - earlier this term.

- Kevin De Bruyne has become the first player to register 15 or more assists in three different Premier League seasons. Only Cesc Fabregas had previously done so in more than one campaign.


CHELSEA

- Chelsea have lost five Premier League home games already this season. Only in 1994-95 - seven times - have they been beaten more often at Stamford Bridge.

- The Blues are also still winless away from home in the league in 2020, drawing three and losing one of their four matches. They last endured a longer such run in the 2015-16 season, failing to taste victory over seven straight away trips.

- Frank Lampard has been reliant on homegrown talent this season. Only Leicester City (31) and Southampton (24) have more goals from English players than Chelsea's 21 - level with United.


MANCHESTER UNITED

- United are unbeaten in 11 in all competitions, but their points return of 45 is still their lowest through 29 games of a Premier League season.

- Bruno Fernandes has inspired their change in fortunes, though, and he has been involved in more Premier League goals (five - two goals, three assists) since his February 1 debut than any other player.

- At 25 years and 86 days old, United have the youngest average starting XI in the Premier League this season.


TOTTENHAM

- No side have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League than Tottenham's four this season. The last time they kept so few in the first 29 matches of a campaign was in 2006-07 (also four).

- Spurs are missing Harry Kane (131.18 minutes per goal), Son Heung-min (152.31 mins per goal) and now January signing Steven Bergwijn (280.5 mins per goal) through injury. Dele Alli has the best minutes per goal ratio - 298 - among the rest of the squad in all competitions this season.


ARSENAL

- Arsenal have drawn 13 Premier League games this season - already their highest such tally since 17 in 1993-94.

- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 17 goals have been worth 16 points to Arsenal this season. Only Sadio Mane's 14 goals have been worth more (18 points) to a single club.

Bruno Fernandes explained his gesture telling Pep Guardiola to be quiet in the Manchester derby was an issue of respect and revealed the Catalan had made him "mad".

Manchester City boss Guardiola threw the ball away from the Portugal international and the pair exchanged stern words in the closing stages of Manchester United's 2-0 win at Old Trafford last Sunday.

Fernandes then made a gesture putting his finger to his lips at former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach Guardiola.

And the 25-year-old, who set up Anthony Martial's opener before Scott McTominay sealed a famous win late on, has discussed how aggrieved Guardiola made him feel at the time.

Fernandes told Sky Sports: "I talked about this with some friends, and some people think, 'Pep won everything, who is Bruno to do this to him?' But I think it's about respect. 

"Now, when I'm outside of the pitch and calm, I don't do this again if I'm on the pitch now. 

"But in that moment, the words he tells make me mad, and I'm a little bit nervous and this is the kind of player I am. 

"I am so respectful of Pep and what he's won and what he did for football, but at that moment, he didn't respect me and he didn't deserve my respect."

Fernandes is now happy to move past the issue after his stunning start to life at United since joining from Sporting CP, which has seen him score three goals and set up four others in nine appearances to become an instant fan favourite. 

He continued: "For me, it doesn't matter what happens on the pitch, now we're out of it and it's past. 

"I have respect for him, so it doesn't matter what he said."

Bruno Fernandes is happy to have aided Manchester United's upturn in form but believes the team could have been equally successful without him.

Portugal international Fernandes signed from Sporting CP in an initial £46.5million (€55m) deal in January following months of speculation.

The midfielder has adjusted seamlessly to life in the Premier League, contributing three goals and four assists in his first nine appearances for United in all competitions.

Indeed, the Red Devils are now unbeaten in 11 matches since losing to Burnley shortly before Fernandes' arrival.

This run of results left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side just three points shy of the top four in the Premier League, into the last eight of the FA Cup and 5-0 up after their Europa League last-16 first leg against LASK as the season was paused this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fernandes insists this is the "same team" as it was prior to his move, though, and claims he is not the sole cause of United's improved fortunes.

"I see the same team from one month ago," he told Sky Sports. "I think we are the same and have a lot of hunger to win, to give a lot, to do better and better in every game.

"In the last month, we've had a lot of really good games and I think we can talk about a new start after Bruno, but it's not about Bruno, it's about the team.

"The team needs the right focus, the right decisions at the time, and I think, also, if Bruno doesn't come, Man United would win the same because one player doesn't change a team.

"A team changes when everyone pushes together for the same side. When I arrived, I saw the team pushing for the same side and to win games, get better and I'm another player to help."

Fernandes has been impressed by Solskjaer, too, highlighting the former striker's man management in a world where "every coach is really good".

"He was a footballer, so he knows when he needs to talk to players, when he needs to give a good word or sometimes come and push you to give more," Fernandes said.

"I think when you have a past in football, you understand these things more than when you don't have [a past].

"But sometimes, you have coaches who never play football and they also know this, too, so it depends from coach to coach.

"I think Ole is really careful with these kinds of points. He wants perfection, which is impossible, but he tries to ask more and more from us."

Scott McTominay hailed the arrival of "born winner" Bruno Fernandes and welcomed the additional midfield competition at Manchester United following Nemanja Matic's return to form.

Fernandes joined United from Sporting CP in January and already has three goals and the same number of assists in eight appearances.

The Portugal international was widely praised for his performance in Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester City, the 25-year-old teeing up Anthony Martial for United's opener with a clever free-kick.

And McTominay has been impressed by his new team-mate's impact since arriving six weeks ago, which has coincided in an upturn in form for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

"With Bruno, you can see he comes in and he's a born winner - you see than in training," the Scotland international said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"He's willing to take the ball in any situation and play the killer pass - we need that creative spark. I can't give him enough credit for the way he's started.

"He's very demanding, a No.10 who wants the ball, but he's been a breath of fresh air. He's got a personality and that's what this football club needs - he has that in abundance."

McTominay was also on the scoresheet in the derby win over City with a long-range strike after being brought on as a second-half substitute.

Solskjaer opted for a midfield trio of Fernandes, Fred and in-form Matic, with academy product McTominay insisting the competition can only be a good thing.

"It's so important. If you don't have competition for places people take their foot off the peddle and relax," he said.

"It can only breed a healthy environment and Manchester United have always had that.

"I want to be one of the first names on the team sheet, but Nemanja is a great player and I can learn a lot from him."

McTominay is part of United's travelling party for Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg against Austrian side LASK.

The game will be played without supporters due to the coronavirus outbreak - now categorised as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization - and McTominay is expecting a "strange" atmosphere.

"Obviously when you are growing up and play Under-18s and reserve games you are used to playing in front of lesser crowds," he said. 

"But it will be strange. We just have to keep doing what we have been doing. It is a real shame fans from both sides can't come."

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw warned there is so much more to come from star Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford.

Fernandes has been a revelation since arriving from Sporting CP in January, with two goals and three assists in five Premier League matches.

The Portugal international brilliantly teed up Anthony Martial in Sunday's 2-0 derby victory over Manchester City – his quick free-kick helping to break the deadlock before Scott McTominay's stoppage-time strike.

Fernandes has been hailed for his performances and team-mate Shaw joined the list following the Manchester showdown at the Theatre of Dreams.

"At times we know he's going to lose possession, but we need them sort of risk passes that are going to unlock defences," Shaw said.

"He's been a brilliant signing so far and he's already come in with a few assists and a few important goals.

"We will keep pushing the standards and we'll keep pushing him because there's so much more from him to come."

United appear to have turned a corner under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – unbeaten in 10 games across all competitions.

The Red Devils, who have not lost in the Premier League since January, are fifth in the table and three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for the final Champions League spot.

"I think back then emotions got over us too much and I think we didn't maintain that, and I think this time we're in different sort of position," Shaw said as he looked back on United's 11-match unbeaten streak during Solskjaer's initial interim tenure last season.

"We're probably more experienced to it now because it was very disappointing the way we dropped off and that's not Man United. We need to keep the standards high.

"I'm sure the boss and the coaches around us will keep pushing, but also us as players we need to push each other every day to get to where we want to be. I have no doubt that we can finish off the season really strong."

Ilkay Gundogan insists it was wrong to award the free-kick that led to Manchester United's opening goal in the derby and has accused Bruno Fernandes of play-acting.

City midfielder Gundogan was penalised when he prodded the ball away from Fernandes while making minimal contact with the United star 29 minutes into the match at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side took the lead from the resulting set-piece, Fernandes chipping a clever pass that Anthony Martial volleyed past Ederson.

United withstood City pressure in the second half before Scott McTominay pounced on another Ederson error to secure a 2-0 victory in second-half injury time.

"There was frustration about the free-kick before the goal," Gundogan admitted. "It was not a foul at all. I just touched the ball and he goes on the floor shouting.

"I don't even know if the referee saw it or just had a feeling that it was a foul. That was very disappointing for me, to be honest, because I was involved in the action and conceding the goal straight afterwards hurt very much. We tried hard after conceding the first one but it just wasn't enough."

Gundogan refused to pin blame for the defeat onto Ederson, who also nearly allowed Martial to score a second with uncharacteristically careless control.

"Eddy has been crucial in so many games for us, and he is allowed to make mistakes. Unfortunately, this time they were punished, very crucially for us," he said.

"We win together and lose together. That's why we play football; that's why we're a team. He will deal with that situation very well. He's angry, disappointed and frustrated, but it's always about how you get out of it. He has all of our support and I'm sure he will do much better in the next games."

City could not match United's intensity in the first half and were short on creativity in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, managing only four shots on target throughout.

"It hurts a lot," said Gundogan. "Not really the result but that we didn't play our best game, especially creating in the last third. This game is always big, one of the biggest derbies in the world. That's why we wanted to perform and play well.

"United were much more aggressive, especially after scoring the first goal. They tried to press very high for 10 minutes afterwards. Missing Kevin is crucial in these kind of games.

"But we still have some very important games, big games. We play Arsenal now and Burnley. Then obviously a vital game against [Real] Madrid at home [in the Champions League] and another crucial game in the FA Cup.

"So we still have the possibility to win silverware. We will try to achieve that and do better than we did on Sunday."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Bruno Fernandes' impact at Manchester United after a 2-0 derby win over Manchester City on Sunday.

Fernandes' impressive start to his career at Old Trafford continued with a brilliant quick free-kick to set up Anthony Martial's opener, while Scott McTominay sealed United's win late on.

The Portugal international arrived at United in January and already has two goals and three assists in five Premier League games.

Solskjaer praised the 25-year-old for his performances at United so far, as his side moved within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

"He works hard, he's humble enough, he's got the desire, commitment, but he's also got the X-factor," the United manager told a news conference.

"He's a risk taker, he's got courage, he's brave enough to make mistakes and if you make enough mistakes they'll be corrected into fantastic assists or goals."

United are on a 10-game unbeaten run and completed a league double over City for the first time since 2009-10.

Solskjaer is happy with his team's growth but believes they are still a few signings away from being Premier League contenders.

"We feel we're improving all the time and we know that we lack one or two, three players and some experience to be considered a title contender, we know that and we're not going to start talking about that now," he said.

"We're just going to start talking about getting up the table, getting more points, challenging for that top four because Chelsea and Leicester are too far ahead of us for my liking still."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described it as "a privilege" to be Manchester United manager after watching his side's 2-0 derby victory over Manchester City.

The Red Devils struck a potentially fatal blow to City's title defence at Old Trafford as goals from Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay maintained their charge for the Champions League places.

United were deservedly ahead at half-time after Martial's volley went through the grasp of Ederson, and they defended stoutly against a blunt City until McTominay struck with seconds remaining after he pounced on a poor throw from the visiting goalkeeper.

The performance and result highlighted the progress of Solskjaer's rebuilding work at United, coming 11 months on from a 4-0 defeat at Everton that left the manager apologising to fans and making it clear some players would be moved on.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Sunday, Solskjaer could not fault the effort of his players, even though he can see the need for some improvements.

"The desire, attitude, commitment, the connection between fans and the team. What a day they've had today, both the players and the fans," he said.

"Of course, they make us defend - that's just the type of team they are - but our fans could see players with commitment and attitude and desire. We've done our job then.

"I think we at times pressed them and pushed them back. We tried to be aggressive with the wing-backs and three up front, so we ended up with three at the back. When we hit the press, we made them make mistakes and we're happy with the result.

"I can't put a finger on anything [that was a negative] but, at times, you'd like to defend with the ball in the team sometimes, but I'm not going to complain!

"It's a privilege to be a manager of a squad and players with this attitude. They give us absolutely everything they've got, every time they play, and you can't ask for more.

"We're gonna improve as a team; they're gonna improve as players. There were two or three times today: head up, and we score goals. Twice, Dan James could just square it, once for Bruno [Fernandes] and once for Anthony; Anthony should square it for Bruno.

"Those little things will come, but it's a privilege. They want to learn, and they listen to the advice we give them.

"It's a derby: the fans love it, the players love it. Sometimes, you can say it's only three points, but for our players to beat a team like Man City, with the problems that we've had as well, is fantastic. I'm just delighted for them.

"We played against an absolute top, top team and, of course, we had to defend, and they had possession, but we're delighted with the outcome."

Solskjaer also highlighted a growing understanding between January signing Fernandes and Martial, the Portugal midfielder having set up the opening goal with a clever chipped free-kick.

"They've hit it off, Anthony and Bruno," Solskjaer added. "Bruno is that type of player. I've seen them do it before."

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