Bruno Fernandes defends Man Utd captaincy after criticism: ‘Everyone is pretty happy with my leadership’

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Bruno Fernandes believes his previous stats at Manchester United have made him a “target” for criticism — but is confident he is performing well as captain.

Fernandes’ credentials for wearing the armband have been recently scrutinised by former United midfielders Roy Keane and Paul Ince, who questioned the Portugal international for ceding penalty duties to Marcus Rashford against Everton at the weekend.

But Fernandes says he did what he thought was “best for the team” and reckons criticism is inevitable.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Galatasaray, Fernandes said: “Obviously you don’t like to be criticised — everyone is the same — but at the same time I have to do what I think is the best for my team.

“Probably I am not always right but in my head at the moment is the right choice, so I do it. It is quite normal when you play for Manchester United you are going to get criticised, even if you do well or bad, if you do the wrong or the right thing. I just have to deal with that, it is normal since I arrived at the club.

“In the beginning everything (was) perfect, because when you arrive in the first game, if you do something different than anyone else is doing, (it’s gonna be all flowers. But after that I understand the tough part is always coming, because when the result is not coming, when the performance are not what everyone expects to be, because the expectations are always higher and higher.”

Fernandes, who scored 28 goals and recorded 17 assists in all competitions in his first full season at the club, added: “I know since I arrived at the club my numbers made myself a target, so not keeping the same numbers on goals and assists is sometimes a problem for me.

“Now (there) is the captaincy; there is gonna be always something. Now my focus is on the team, the staff, everyone who works with me day by day; I think they are pretty happy with me. The way I am is the same since I arrived at the club, it has not changed since being captain. I don’t think it has to change.

“I am really open with everyone so no one until now has had a problem with me, so I think I should keep like that, everyone is pretty happy with my leadership.

Explaining his penalty decision in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Goodison Park, Fernandes said: “In the past few years it has been always me, but when I arrive at the club Marcus was the penalty-taker, he was injured, so I started taking penalties.

“He was always respectful on the side, saying, ‘You are doing it well so keep going.’ Sometimes we have that moment to give the ball to each other. He had that moment. I could have take the penalty and missed. Marcus took it and scored.”

Manager Erik ten Hag added: “I want to emphasise it’s great leadership, to understand your team-mate needs a goal and you have confidence in each other to give the pen away.

“I am sure Bruno would have made it as well. It is one of the examples (why Fernandes is captain).”

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