Fernandes stars as Man Utd momentum builds
London: Manchester United have hit the ground running after the coronavirus shutdown, building on their momentum before the enforced break as the inspirational Bruno Fernandes quickly gains hero status.
When the Portuguese midfielder was signed in the final days of the January transfer window, United had just been booed off after a shocking 2-0 home defeat to Burnley as the atmosphere at Old Trafford turned toxic.
However, Fernandes's arrival has lifted the mood and instantly changed United's fortunes on the field.
The 55 million euro (£50 million, $62 million) signing has scored six goals and provided four assists in 13 appearances to keep United in the hunt in three different competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are unbeaten in 15 games either side of the three-month coronavirus shutdown and they are reaping the rewards of the enforced break, with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford fit again after long-term injuries.
Pogba and Fernandes have immediately formed a formidable midfield pairing rarely seen in the seven years of decline at Old Trafford since former manager Alex Ferguson retired.
"There is quality in that team, our players are fit and we have competition for places now," Solskjaer said after his team's 3-0 win against Brighton on Tuesday.
"I've got more than one game-changer, we have some top players and Bruno has come and been fantastic.
"He has brought that winning mentality with him, that 99 percent is not good enough -- it has to be 100 percent. It's a joy to watch them when you see them express themselves like that."
Fernandes scored twice, including one sensational finish on the volley, as United steamrolled Brighton to close within two points of the top four.
Solskjaer's men are also into the semi-finals of the FA Cup and will restart their Europa League campaign in August with a 5-0 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie against Austrians LASK.
United fans have had to watch on in anguish as rivals Liverpool and Manchester City have gone head-to-head for the Premier League title in recent seasons. - AFP