Manchester United got back to winning ways with a thumping 4-0 win over Real Sociedad in the Europa League on Thursday night.
That man again Bruno Fernandes was at the centre of everything good too, scoring twice (no, they weren’t penalties) to take his tally up to 21 goals for the season for the Red Devils. Marcus Rashford and Dan James rounded off the win in an impressive performance as United dominated after a shaky opening ten minutes.
Fernandes’ performance was one to remember too and showed that he is absolutely back to his best. Nobody had more shots than him on the day (3), nobody made more tackles (3), nobody made more key passes (3). He was the best player on the pitch by a country mile.
With 21 goals now in this campaign, he needs just eight more goals to become the highest scoring player in a single season for Manchester United since Robin van Persie in 2012/13.
So with that information, and knowing how important he is to the way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side performs, why do people keep talking about moving him around in the side?
There have been some calls for him to move to the right-wing position to help fill that hole in attack for the Reds, while also moving him out of central areas where he tends to give the ball away a lot.
There have also been shouts for him to be played as the striker, with his movement and finishing ability outshining the current options in attack of Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani. But why would anyone want to do that?
With all the holes in this current United side, Fernandes’ position is one that doesn’t need adjusting in any way, shape or form.
If the strikers aren’t performing, then the strikers should be adjusted. If the right wing isn’t working in the side, then that needs to be changed. But you don’t need to fix what isn’t broken, and Fernandes as the number ten is far from broken.
He is undeniably one of the most productive players in the world right now – moving him out of his current role makes no sense.
United and Solskjaer need to build the side around the strengths they do have, rather than trying to plug the gaps they don’t have using those players – Fernandes in the number ten role, Rashford on the left wing, Paul Pogba in midfield and by default Harry Maguire in central defence.
There’s your spine, and you work on improving the rest without moving them around. Manchester United’s best chance of success and progress going forward is to play their best players in their best positions.
Asking Fernandes to move position and still be as productive as he has been seems counter-productive. While he might be the best finisher right now, his service would be effected without him in that midfield role. His combative style would be greatly missed in central areas if he was shifted out wide to cover that deficiency.
There may be pros to moving him around, with some areas more blessed with depth than others in the squad, but there are way more cons to it. It just doesn’t seem sensible to play with working parts when there are so many parts that aren’t working.
That means you leave Fernandes exactly where he is and don’t touch him. You can have almost everything around him as moving pieces, but he is essential to anything good happening at Old Trafford right now.