What the papers say

Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal are reportedly considering a second attempt to poach Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes. The Daily Mail, citing Portuguese outlet Record, says the Saudi side could make another run at luring the 29-year-old in the summer after failing to sign him in January.

Elsewhere, The Guardian reports Roy Hodgson is nearing the Crystal Palace exit following his side’s 4-1 loss to Brighton on Saturday. Chairman Steve Parish is said to be sounding out replacements to take over as manager, but is struggling to find a replacement willing to take over at this stage of the season.

The Liverpool Echo reports Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso is the clear frontrunner to take over as Liverpool manager at the end of the season.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Michael Olise: The Daily Mirror says Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag views the Crystal Palace midfielder as the club’s next marquee signing.

Benjamin Sesko: According to footballtransfers.com, Chelsea and AC Milan could target the RB Leipzig and Slovenia forward in the summer.

Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes has apologised for an unacceptable performance against Bournemouth lacking the requisite quality, effort and aggression.

Erik ten Hag won the Carabao Cup during a promising first season in charge but the Dutchman’s second campaign has been a roller coaster with more lows than highs.

United’s season reached a nadir on Saturday afternoon as Bournemouth won at Old Trafford for the first time in their history, with the hosts fortunate to escape with only a 3-0 defeat.

It was a remarkable drop-off from Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Chelsea and led exasperated Ten Hag to admit they are not good enough to play on a high level consistently.

“(I want) to apologise for the performance,” skipper Fernandes said. “It was not acceptable, starting on me. I’m not talking about anyone else.

“But I think everyone agrees in the dressing room that the performance was (not) at our level and we have to perform much better.

“It was underperforming on quality-wise, on effort-wise and not aggressive as we did in the last game against Chelsea.

“If you don’t do your job, you’re not going to win the game.”

Similar words and explanations have been heard during a challenging season that has seen United lose 11 of their 23 matches in all competitions.

They have won 11 and drawn the other, but the eye-watering number of defeats means pressure is mounting on Ten Hag and his team.

“I don’t know (why it was so different to Chelsea) but it’s been consistently like (this),” Fernandes told MUTV. “When we win a game, the next one we don’t perform in the same way we did before.

“I don’t know if it’s like a lack of concentration or focus or something else, but it’s something that we have to be aware that after winning a game we have to get that consistency of winning games.

“Even sometimes (if we are) underperforming but getting the result.”

United now need to press reset and find the right attitude to avoid being sent into a tailspin at the end of a crucial week.

First up comes Tuesday’s key Champions League clash against Bayern Munich, with the Red Devils only progressing if they win and the other Group A game between Copenhagen and Galatasaray ends in a draw.

Then comes a Premier League trip to rivals Liverpool next Sunday – a match Fernandes will miss after collecting his fifth booking of the season against Bournemouth.

“Obviously it’s good (that we play soon),” Fernandes said. “Obviously we know that now the next game is going to be really tough.

“We have to win and obviously wait for a good result on the other game for us.

“But we have to do our job first of all, and thinking and understanding that is going to be a tough game for us.

“But we are capable, more than able, to get the result.”

While United’s problems are pored over in minute detail, things are looking far rosier on the south coast.

Summer appointment Andoni Iraola has overseen a superb upturn in recent weeks at Bournemouth.

Dominic Solanke, Philip Billing and Marcos Senesi scored the goals in a match that goes down as one of the Cherries’ greatest ever results.

Asked where the win rated in the club’s recent history, long-serving right-back Adam Smith told BBC Radio Solent: “I’d say it’s number one.

“I mean, it’s the Theatre of Dreams and we had never won here. It was tough at times and we suffered. But we were playing Manchester United.

“I think the lads will remember it for a long time. We kept a clean sheet and it probably should have maybe have been 4-0. It was unbelievable for the fans.”

Bruno Fernandes knows Manchester United have a “mountain to climb” if they are to keep their Champions League campaign alive following Wednesday’s chaotic late defeat at Copenhagen.

A night that began with talented Rasmus Hojlund’s brace against his former club ended in a crushing 4-3 loss sparked by Marcus Rashford’s contentious red card late in the first half.

United boss Erik ten Hag was unhappy with that decision and disputed the Copenhagen goals that quickly followed from Mohamed Elyounoussi and Diogo Goncalves.

Fernandes put Ten Hag’s 10 men back ahead from the penalty spot in the second half, only for Lukas Lerager and substitute Roony Bardghji to inflict United’s third defeat in four Group A games.

It leaves the Red Devils bottom and facing an early Champions League exit, with defeat at Galatasaray sealing that before hosting already-qualified leaders Bayern Munich in their final match.

“We have a mountain to climb, so we must climb,” captain Fernandes told UEFA after the defeat at Parken.

“We have two games and we have to win those two games.

“Before tonight, our aim already was to win our remaining three games. We couldn’t win today. We have to win the next two.”

Fernandes continued that theme when speaking to MUTV, saying: “You have to win them if you want to keep in the Champions League and stay in the best competition.

“We have to win against the best, so we have a really tough game away against Galatasaray and after, we play against the top of the group.

“We want to win both but now we have to focus on Luton (in the Premier League on Saturday) because it’s going to be a tough game again.

“We need three points in the league, we need to get back to the winning track after this defeat and keeping on the winning track in the Premier League.”

United’s clash with promoted Luton will be key to the mood around Old Trafford heading into the international break.

Defeat in Saturday’s Premier League match would send the club into a tailspin on the back of some poor performances and a galling loss in Denmark.

“I think for everything we did in the game, we could – and we should – have got something from the game,” disappointed skipper Fernandes said.

“It’s difficult at the moment. Obviously the mood is not the best because I think we’ve fought so hard with 10 men.

“Even from then, it was playing against a team that plays really good on the ball and apart from that, many decisions that were against us.

“Today was a tough day but I think the team effort was good, we tried.

“We could have done some things better, but it was difficult for us from the 30 minutes on, playing with one player less.”

Rashford’s red card is sure to be pored over in the aftermath but United dealt well with being a man down after half-time.

“Yeah, of course, we understood that we could get something from the game, we could win the game there,” Fernandes added.

“But obviously, as we said, it’s difficult to play so long with 10 men.

“In some moments they will get spaces because you’re running behind the ball, you’re trying to get into everywhere with every player.

“It’s difficult to cover so much space and they got their two goals to win the game.”

Roy Keane insisted Bruno Fernandes should be stripped of the Manchester United captaincy after they were outclassed by Manchester City in a one-sided derby at Old Trafford.

Erling Haaland struck from the penalty spot after 26 minutes and then headed home shortly after the interval before Phil Foden put an emphatic stamp on a 3-0 victory for Pep Guardiola’s visitors.

While City laid down a marker in their Premier League title defence, United’s defeat was their fifth in just 10 matches this season and left them 11 points adrift of leaders Tottenham.

Assessing what United can do immediately in an attempt to rectify their failings amid a turbulent time for the club both on and off the field, former skipper Keane suggested taking the armband off Fernandes, who assumed the role from out-of-favour defender Harry Maguire ahead of the campaign.

Keane, who captained United from 1997 to 2005 during one of the club’s most successful periods, told Sky Sports: “After today, having watched him again, I would definitely take the captaincy off him.

“One hundred per cent. I know it’s a big decision, they’ve changed the captaincy with Maguire. But Fernandes is not captaincy material.

“I think he’s talented player, no doubt about it, but what I saw today…his whinging, his moaning, his throwing his arms up in the air constantly, it really isn’t acceptable.

“What we saw today, I would take that off him. The manager is capable of doing that. He’s the opposite to what I would want in a captain.”

Bruno Fernandes is confident Manchester United will prove they are a “big team” as they attempt to kick on from a promising first campaign under Erik ten Hag.

This time last year, the Dutchman was sifting through the mess left by a wretched 2021-22 campaign in which embarrassing results compounded incoherent performances.

Ten Hag quickly stamped his mark on the team and oversaw United’s first trophy win since 2017, with the Carabao Cup triumph followed by a third-placed Premier League finish.

The Old Trafford giants also lost the FA Cup final to Manchester City and newly-appointed captain Fernandes is demanding more this time around.

“We did a really good season,” the skipper said. “It was not successful, but I think that our season was good.

“We started in the wrong way. We had two bad results, our away games were not the best. We didn’t get the best results. But I think overall the season was good.

“Obviously it was the first season for the manager, first season for many players.”

He continued: “Now we know that we have to improve game-wise and we will. We will improve it and we will show that we are a big team.

“Manchester United have to fight for everything. This club deserves that.

“We know when you come to a club like this that you have to fight for all the trophies that you are included in. That’s what we have to do.

“Fight for them, try our best to win every game that we have and that’s it.”

United certainly appear on the right track, with Mason Mount brought in from Chelsea and Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana following him to the club this week.

The Red Devils are now pushing for a striker to bolster a side that beat fellow title hopefuls Arsenal 2-0 on Saturday in New Jersey thanks to goals from Fernandes and Jadon Sancho.

The Portuguese scored as he led the side as permanent skipper for the first time since Ten Hag decided to take the armband off of Harry Maguire.

“There was a feeling I would like it to be me but I didn’t hear,” Fernandes said of the decision.

“The manager wanted to tell the team together. It is really good to be captain of Manchester United, it is a big achievement in my career but now there is a lot of work to do.

“The manager chose me because of what I was doing last season and the way he worked with me.

“He liked the way I work, my discipline, everything I give, my passion, everything I give, so I don’t see why I should change.

“(The approach) will be the same. I don’t need to change anything.

“You have to be as natural as you can because they all know me, they know I am really vocal, that I try to be open with everyone, be clear and try to help in the way I think is the best.

“Sometimes I can be wrong and not be the best way, but they know me really very well, so they know I will give everything for them.

“Everything I said to them is because I think they can do good things because they are big players in the dressing room.”

Bruno Fernandes believes Manchester United are building something special under Erik ten Hag, who the skipper feels a debt of gratitude to having stood by him amid intense criticism following the Liverpool debacle.

The meticulous Dutchman has helped drag the Old Trafford giants up from a low ebb, leading them back into the Champions League having won the Carabao Cup in his first season at the helm.

Ten Hag now has the chance to end a positive campaign by completing a domestic cup double with a statement victory at Wembley, where United take on treble-chasing Manchester City on Saturday.

The first all-Manchester FA Cup final promises to be a special occasion and one that Fernandes, set to skipper the side, believes can provide the catalyst for further success.

“It is important for us, even to build,” the Portugal international told the PA news agency. “We are now building something we see can be special in the future.

“Obviously I think if we win the FA Cup, it will give a little bit more belief that we can go into the next season and aim for bigger targets.”

Fernandes, who signed a new deal at United towards the end of last season, said: “I want to win trophies at the club.

“I spoke with the club before I signed that contract and said ‘I want to be successful with the club, but I need to make sure the club is going to be the right things and do things in a successful way’.

“I think those steps are being done. We still need some things and I think we will have that. Not only with transfers but also in the dressing room with us stepping up more in moments that we needed it this season, but we didn’t.

“Next season we will have learned so we need to do it better.”

Fernandes’ drive and fiercely ambitious nature matches that of Ten Hag, who he credits for overseeing a “big improvement on the team mentality wise and quality wise”.

“I said since the beginning of the season he demands a lot,” the playmaker said. “He wants to win. He wants to be in the position to win everything.


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“He doesn’t hide that, he shows that, he passes the message through the players, so it makes you be always aware that you have to be at the best level as possible to play with him, to be part of the club.


“He has made high demands for everyone to understand that we are in a big club and to be here we have to deserve to be here, we have to show that we deserve to be here.

“And I think that he has been changing the mentality of everyone to not be relaxed, not be thinking that your place is guaranteed here.”

Ten Hag has overseen a largely positive campaign, but there have been some ugly bumps in the road – no more so than March’s club record-equalling 7-0 defeat at arch-rivals Liverpool.

That shellacking saw skipper Fernandes face scathing criticism from the likes of United greats Roy Keane and Gary Neville – a stinging assessment that led to a staunch defence by his manager.

“I’m aware that he’s really happy with the way I train, the way I play, the way I show my emotions, the way I show my passion for the game,” the Portuguese said of Ten Hag.

“He knows I care, that’s why probably sometimes it makes you do some things that you should not do.

“But he knows that I will never do nothing to make the team look bad, my team-mates look bad, or making something that is not good for the team.

“He knows that, so that’s why it protects me. That’s why he did that in that interview and many other times.

“Whenever he thinks that he has to say something that he didn’t like to me, he has called me two or three times in his office and he said ‘look, we have to change this, we have to change this, I think you could do it in a different way’.

“We had many conversations this season. He always called the players to talk with them, he has a lot of individual meetings with the players.

“I think that’s good because he shows you the respect, he shows you the protection. But always with the demands behind that because obviously when you protect someone you want him to give you some back, so he can have his reasons to protect you.”


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Captaining United to their first domestic cup double will certainly help repay Ten Hag’s backing and would mean a huge amount to the fans.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1999 heroes are the only team to have won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in the same campaign, adding extra incentive – if any was needed – to Saturday’s encounter under the arch.

“We are aware of this,” Fernandes said. “We know this. We know the story of our club and that the fans don’t want City to do that.

“But for ourselves it is about lifting a trophy. The importance of this for us is winning another trophy, making sure we end the season in the best way possible.

“We know if we win the trophy, the consequence of that is Man City cannot do the treble anymore.

“But from the players’ side, it is just about winning the game because we want to win a trophy for ourselves, the club, the fans. That is it.”

Manchester United sealed third spot as Bruno Fernandes’ smart finish completed a 2-1 comeback win against Fulham on the final day of the Premier League season.

Having sealed Champions League qualification with Thursday’s 4-1 victory against Chelsea, Erik ten Hag’s men overcame west London opposition once again on Sunday.

Kenny Tete opened the scoring and Fulham had the chance to extend their lead, only for long-serving United goalkeeper David De Gea – whose contract has yet to be extended beyond the summer – to stop Aleksandar Mitrovic’s spot-kick.

That save inspired an impressive United turnaround, with Jadon Sancho putting the hosts level before Fred slipped Fernandes through to coolly complete a 2-1 triumph.

The three points saw United beat Newcastle to third place, while Marco Silva’s Fulham headed to the northwest already guaranteed to finish 10th thanks to a brilliant season following promotion.

United’s win was a club record-equalling 27th at Old Trafford in all competitions and maintains the Red Devils’ momentum heading into next weekend’s FA Cup final against treble-chasing rivals Manchester City.

A second trophy of Ten Hag’s first season would be huge, but there remains underlying issues at the club and the United faithful made it clear throughout Sunday’s match – as they always do – that the Glazer family must sell.

Their team began on the front foot and Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno stopped a fizzing early Diogo Dalot cross potentially being directed home by Fred.

The Fulham shot-stopper pawed away a well-struck Marcus Rashford free-kick from distance as United started brightly, only to then be caught cold from a 19th-minute set-piece.

Willian swung over a corner from the left and Tete got ahead of Rashford to all too easily head home at the near post in front of the stunned Stretford End.

Things looked set to unravel further for United in the 24th minute.

Harry Maguire’s poor pass out from the back led to a move that ended with Casemiro catching Tom Cairney’s leg in the box as the Fulham captain cut inside.

Referee Robert Jones pointed to the spot and Mitrovic stepped at Old Trafford, where his meltdown in Fulham’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat brought him an eight-match ban.

The Fulham frontman will also want to forget this latest trip to United as his firm strike was saved by De Gea, meaning he failed to score his fourth penalty of the Premier League campaign.

Old Trafford erupted at that save, enlivening United’s play in the process.

Rashford whistled a long-ranger narrowly wide and quick build-up play after winning the ball ended with Alejandro Garnacho curling just wide.

The 18-year-old went closer still in the 29th minute. Tyrell Malacia shifted the ball onto Garnacho in the box, with the winger opening his body up and curling a right-footed shot off the crossbar.

Leno denied Casemiro from an acute angle as Fulham appeared to see off United’s onslaught, only to be pegged back in the 39th minute.

Fernandes sent Fred darting into the box and Tete’s challenge on the midfielder inadvertently sent the ball onto Sancho to prod home an equaliser.

United returned from the break on top and took a 55th-minute lead through ever-reliable Fernandes.

Fred showed great skill and awareness to slip a pass through to the Portuguese, who had ran behind the Fulham backline and smartly clipped the ball over Leno after taking a touch.

Fernandes was denied a second from distance by Leno, with Rashford also seeing an attempt saved as United looked to put the result to bed.

Cairney had Fulham’s best chances, holding his head in his hands after one miss and seeing another tipped over by De Gea.

The United goalkeeper stopped substitute Carlos Vinicius’ strike unaware he had strayed offside, with the Spaniard again alert when fellow introduction Manor Solomon took aim.

Wout Weghorst, on for his final home appearance before his loan expires, turned a fine late chance wide.

Bruno Fernandes’ strike strengthened Manchester United’s grip on Champions League qualification and ended Aston Villa’s 10-match unbeaten run.

Unai Emery has overseen an incredible turnaround since replacing Steven Gerrard and kicking off his Villa reign with an impressive win against the Red Devils in November.

But Fernandes’ first-half goal sealed United a 1-0 victory amid a backdrop of anti-Glazer protests on Sunday.

United had failed to win their last three Premier League matches against the Birmingham outfit and looked determined to halt that run as they flew out of the blocks at Old Trafford.

Casemiro struck the crossbar before Erik ten Hag’s men deservedly went ahead when Fernandes fought to turn home after Emiliano Martinez pushed away a Marcus Rashford shot.

Villa could not respond as they failed to score in a Premier League match for the first time under Emery, with the impressive Victor Lindelof clearing a late Douglas Luiz attempt off the line.

The match came just two days after Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe submitted their third, and what is expected to be final, offers to buy United.

Other parties are interested in minority investment, and it was reported that Joel and Avram Glazer could remain stakeholders under one deal being proposed by Ratcliffe.

A group of United fans marched to Old Trafford in protest against the Glazers, with a giant banner reading ‘Full $ale Only’.

Protestors’ flares outside the ground also filled the air inside Old Trafford but many did not heed the call for an 18-minute boycott – a minute for each year of the Glazers’ ownership.

Those that stayed outside did not miss any goals despite an impressive United start.

Rashford struck narrowly wide having been slipped through by Marcel Sabitzer, unaware he would be flagged for offside in the build-up.

The 25-year-old soon had another chance as Fernandes smartly played him in to get away a shot that Martinez spread himself well to stop.

The Villa goalkeeper did well there but was twice breathing a sigh of relief soon after.

United failed to punish him after he raced off his line to cut out a ball, then the World Cup winner slipped only for a Fernandes cross to just evade team-mates.

Emery’s side had offered precious little in response but had a superb opportunity around the 20-minute mark.

Ollie Watkins slipped at the far post as Emiliano Buendia set over a tantalising low ball, with Alex Moreno’s fierce follow-up denied by David De Gea.

Watkins’ penalty appeals fell on deaf ears, as did the United spot-kick calls that followed in a spell that saw Casemiro avoid a booking for a challenge on Ramsey.

The midfielder has been below par in recent matches but was superb on Sunday and went agonisingly close to a 28th-minute opener.

Jadon Sancho met a diagonal ball with some fine work on the left, before cutting back for Casemiro to eventually hit a strike that rattled the crossbar.

An entertaining half looked to set to end scoreless, only for Fernandes to make the breakthrough in the 39th minute.

Martinez’s goal-kick was headed away powerfully, putting Rashford through on goal.

The goalkeeper could only push away the forward’s low strike and Fernandes beat Moreno to turn home the loose ball. The skipper celebrated by staring at the away fans that had been goading him.

Fernandes’ strike was given the green light after a VAR check and he saw a stoppage-time attempt at a second comfortably held by Martinez.

Villa showed signs of life in the second half, but Lindelof frustrated Watkins and Ramsey.

Martinez stopped Rashford at the other end and Christian Eriksen dragged wide shortly after seeing a cross coolly cut out by Tyrone Mings.

Rashford went down claiming a penalty against Calum Chambers, while Casemiro went close as play continued without intervention.

Villa nearly capitalised in the 81st minute. Some penalty area pinball ended with Luiz seeing a shot blocked by Sabitzer, before Lindelof rose to head his goalbound follow-up off the line.

There were Villa cheers when United brought on Harry Maguire, but the away side could not find a leveller.

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