Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Bruno Fernandes’ impact on the current Manchester United team is on a par with Cristiano Ronaldo in his Old Trafford pomp.
Fernandes’ double strike against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Tuesday night means that the Portugal star has a total of 34 goals and assists since he joined United in a £68million deal in January – more than any other Premier League player during that period.
The former Sporting Lisbon playmaker also showed his leadership qualities on Tuesday by giving up the chance to complete his hat-trick from the spot and let Marcus Rashford take a penalty.
Asked if Fernandes has a similar presence in the team to Ronaldo, Solskjaer said: ‘He does definitely have that presence and influence and impact on team-mates.
‘Just look at results since he came in. He’s got energy, leadership, he’s a team player and key for us going forward.
‘Some players will have to sit games out. I wasn’t looking forward to telling Bruno he was rested against Leipzig, same as Marcus, but it was fine. The culture of the team is it’s not about individuals, and Bruno has proved that over and over.’
United go to Southampton on Sunday looking to make it four wins in a row, but Solskjaer is expecting a tough test against a team currently lying in sixth.
‘Of course, we want that run to continue but we know how well Southampton have done lately,’ he added.
‘We have a good away record and are up there since the turn of January when we had some ins and outs. That was a big turning point for us and since then have been pushing up the table and getting that consistency.
‘This is a nice challenge and a good test for the team to see if we learnt our lessons from the games we played against Southampton last season.
‘We know it’s going to be a difficult one, they’ve done really well. If you look back over a 30 or 40-game block, they’re one of the top teams.’
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