The nifty 50
Fernandes racks up half a century of goal involvements
Published: Oct 07, 2021 04:38 PM
Bruno Fernandes (right) of Manchester United and Allan of Everton vie for the ball on October 2 in Manchester, England. Photo: VCG

Bruno Fernandes (right) of Manchester United and Allan of Everton vie for the ball on October 2 in Manchester, England. Photo: VCG

As ever, the debate around Manchester United's disappointing draws with Everton centered on Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal striker was left on the bench by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a move which drew criticism after the side were held to a 1-1 by the visitors - and he was unable to help them to a winner when he was introduced from the bench by the Norwegian.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was seen giving his thoughts to former UFC superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov in a video that has since been shared on social media.

 "I also think that when they saw Ronaldo wasn't playing..." tells the Dagestani, a friend of Ronaldo.

Nurmagomedov reminds Ferguson that Ronaldo played in the second half after coming on as a substitute but the Scot is not swayed.

"I know, but you should always start with your best players," he says.

Player-turned-pundit Gary Neville was disappointed with Ronaldo's reaction after the final whistle.

"I watched him walk off and I can't say I like it," former Manchester United defender Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast.

"Is Cristiano upset when he doesn't play? Yes. Is Cristiano upset when he doesn't score? Yes. Is Cristiano annoyed as hell when the team don't win? Of course.

"We know those things. He doesn't have to prove that.

"He walked off the pitch muttering to himself, which throws the questions up in the air - What's he saying? Who is he annoyed with?

"It can only come back to the manager. Actions like that - and Cristiano is smart enough to know this - will bring real pressure on the manager, more pressure than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is already under.

"I think that is something that just has to be managed in the next couple of months. Cristiano is not always going to score, he's maybe not going to play every single game.

"But I think if he walks off like that, it's going to put immense pressure on Solskjaer. There's no doubt the talk after the game was about the manager.

"He has this collection of players but they haven't got this style of play, they haven't got this or that. He didn't pick Ronaldo..."

There was another Portgual international whose performance deserved discussion and Bruno Fernandes was happy to talk despite his own frustrations with the scoreline.

"I think we played really well first half, created a lot of chances," Fernandes told MUTV after the game

"Of course, I think it's really difficult for us," the Portuguese midfielder said.

"In the second half we slow it down again. Once again we make that mistake. We have to learn.

"We have to learn and the time is now because we cannot do this anymore. We did it so many times. We cannot slow the game down when we're winning.

"We have to make it quicker, score once again one, two goals and after, OK, you can slow it down and make them run a little bit more.

"But we have to carry on now. There's no point... We can be frustrated because of the result, of course, but we have to come back after the national team and then be ready for the next games.

Fernandes even took the blame for his part in Everton's goal, a counterattack that came from a United corner.

"It's a really bad corner from me," he said. "We don't close well enough outside of the box, we don't clear the ball, we don't make a foul - many mistakes starting on my corner.

"We should do it better and we should learn because it's not the first time that's happened.

"We have to do better next time because now we have to do something, we have to change something because something is not working to concede so many counterattacks.

"That is about us players inside of the pitch doing something. It's not about someone else.

"It's not good enough, we should have more points. We have to look forward now to what we can do from now to the end of the season. We have to carry on and fight for everything."

As on the pitch, Fernandes was happy to let others have the limelight.

"It's nice having Anto scoring goals again," Fernandes said of Anthony Martial scoring a first goal for some time.

"We are happy for him because it is not easy for Anto. Of course he was playing a lot. Two seasons ago he was the best scorer of the team, so it's difficult for him not to play as many games as he wants.

"But he shows he's ready when he comes on. He shows once again he can be an important part for us and he will be again in the future."

Fernandes, as ever, provided the assist - taking him to a rather unbelievable 50 goal involvements in just 58 English Premier League games since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020.

The Portuguese notched up 50 with a 20th assist to go with his 30 goals and only three players have reached the milestone quicker than the Man United No.18.

Former Manchester United favorite Eric Cantona did it in 54 games, though some at Old Trafford would not like to remember that the first few of them came when he was still at Leeds United.

Cantona's 54-game feat was matched by Alan Shearer, who won the English Premier League with Blackburn Rovers before moving to boyhood club Newcastle United.

The only player to go faster than those two was another Newcastle United favorite: Andrew Cole.

The "Goal King" was in prolific form when he came up to the top flight with the Toon Army before moving to Manchester United, where he would be a key part of Ferguson's title-winning machines.

He reached 50 goal involvements in just 43 games.

Cole, Shearer and Cantona all have one thing that Fernandes is still yet to match - an English Premier League winner's medal.
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