Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has defended his record against ‘top six’ clubs ahead of the derby against Manchester City on Sunday.
Fernandes has been a revelation at Old Trafford since his big-money move from Sporting CP in January 2020.
The 26-year-old has scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists in 27 Premier League games this season, but Tottenham are the only club among the established ‘top six’ he has found the back of the net against – a penalty in October’s 6-1 defeat.
United will need Fernandes to fire when they face runaway leaders City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Portugal international says it is unfair to suggest he has failed to rise to the occasion against stronger opponents.
The winner of our February Goal of the Month award, presented by @OfficialPES…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 6, 2021
He told Sky Sports: “I don’t know what people mean by ‘top six’, because the teams are in top six in the table. I score and assist against some of them.
“I score this season against Tottenham. But some people say penalties don’t count!
“I know people expect Bruno to score or assist in every game because when I arrived, I was playing really well. If you see my stats, everyone is thinking that Bruno has to score in every game, Bruno has to assist in every game.
“And I want to do that – it’s the most important thing. But as a player, I don’t look for the big six or the rest of the league. I look for every game in the same way.
“And I think the league is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So you don’t have to score or win against the big six – you have to score and win against everyone.
“I see people talking about Bruno not doing so well against the ‘big six’. People have said Bruno gives the ball away too many times when we lose a game.
“Also, in the game against Basaksehir, I scored two goals and I lost more balls than their team, but people said I was the best player in the game. So, what is the point?”
United take on a seemingly unstoppable City side having been held to three consecutive goalless draws in all competitions and Fernandes is aware he has not been at his best of late.
“I agree the last two games, I didn’t play very well. And I don’t need to see the stats to see if I play well or not. I know when I play well or not.” he said.
“I saw an interview from Luke (Shaw) saying, ‘people now care more about stats than the performance’. And this is the truth. Because now they’re expecting from me just goals and assists, and not performances.
“They don’t care about the performance of Bruno, they don’t care about ball recovery or how many chances I create, because I can create 10 chances but if I don’t score, people will say Bruno didn’t play very well.
“But this is football. Football is in the moment. Some people have said I’m playing bad, and that I have to do better. And I agree, because we always can do better. But for me, it’s okay. I can have that pressure on my back.
“I’m sure in some moments, I will score, I will assist, and I will perform. And that will help my team-mates to win the game.”