The Portuguese midfielder’s goals and assists have dropped significantly this season, and an ex-Red Devils star feels his compatriot has played a role. Gary Neville says Bruno Fernandes looks like “half the player” he once was at Manchester United because of the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bruno Fernandes finished the season as United’s second-top scorer with 10 goals in the Premier League – eight fewer than Ronaldo. That tally is a significant drop from the 18 he scored in the English top-flight in 2020-21, while his haul of six assists is half of the figure he reached in that season.
According to Goal, Neville says that Fernandes is not the only player who has been affected by Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford last summer, with it his belief that captain Harry Maguire and striker Edinson Cavani also suffered.
“I think at the start of the season, he created a problem straight away with Cavani,” Neville said on Sky Sports’ The Overlap.
“[Cavani was] being pleaded to stay and lead the attack for the year, but when they signed Ronaldo, Cavani was shot then and finished. It upset the dynamic in the dressing room for Bruno.”
“I think Bruno looks up to him like a godfather in Portugal, so it made him feel a bit inferior to what he was before. It made Maguire a little bit inferior as captain just naturally – nothing from Ronaldo’s doing this.
“Just his presence itself on the pitch means everyone’s looking to Cristiano with Harry trying to establish himself as United captain.
“I don’t know where the cliques are, I’m not close enough to it, but you mention words like ‘rotten’ ‘broken’.
“Harry Maguire has gone from someone who I think was growing on the pitch last year in Covid to someone who looks like he’s shot to pieces when he pulls on a redshirt.
“Bruno looks like half the player.
“The rest of them, the young players, it looks like you’ve lost complete faith in them. Let’s get rid of them.
“That’s when something has gone fundamentally wrong in the changing room, in the leadership, and I don’t think you can absolve anyone of blame. Everyone has to take blame for that.”
Ronaldo has a year left on his contract at Old Trafford, but there have been questions about his future at the club as Erik ten Hag takes over as coach.
Asked what he thinks will happen on the podcast, ex-United full-back Neville said: “I think he’s staying.”