Bruno Fernandes has given Man United something money can’t buy

There has been a common theme at Manchester United under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in that every positive seems to have a negative to counter balance it.

Just as the club have witnessed historic wins under the Norwegian manager they have also experienced some of the most humiliating defeats in recent times.

While the optimists will point towards reaching four separate semi-finals under Solskjaer the pessimists will rightfully point out they have lost all three which they have played so far, with a Carabao Cup meeting against Manchester City looming on the horizon.

It’s this erratic form which makes it so hard to properly analyse just how good United are at the moment. This season we have already seen the humiliation of a thrashing by Tottenham and a devastating loss in Istanbul which propelled Solskjaer’s side back into the Europa League.

Yet after the Boxing Day draw away at Leicester City this inconsistent United side are back to fourth in the Premier League table and still within touching distance of the highly-acclaimed Liverpool side.

A productive festive period should ultimately tell us if United are title contenders or pretenders under Solskjaer this season, but no matter what you think of the Norwegian coach there can be no disputing the massive change in mentality which he has already instilled.

Two years ago United were hapless and low on confidence following Jose Mourinho’s sacking from Old Trafford, but 24 months on and they have recaptured the arrogance and self-belief required to become title challengers again.

“It’s good to be disappointed,” the catalyst Bruno Fernandes stated over the weekend. “I was really happy when I got in the dressing room and I saw everyone disappointed and saying the things we had to do better. You are creating a winning mentality and we are not happy with this point.”

United officials noticed a shift in mentality as soon as Fernandes’ first training session back in January, but few expected the bounce of his signing to turn into a true landmark moment in the recent history of the club.

With 26 goals and 16 assists in his first calendar year with the club it is clear to see why the United squad have been so galvanised by a signing who leads by example.

Yet despite his love affair with goal contributions perhaps the most glowing review of Fernandes’ impact is within his winning mentality that has spread throughout the first-team squad.

Drawing away against Leicester, a team who have already defeated both Man City and Tottenham this season, is hardly the sign of a crisis. Yet the expectations of United are now so high that it feels like a real missed opportunity.

“It feels like a loss in the changing room,” Marcus Rashford told club media. “I think we deserved to win the game and we had the chances to win the game, but we didn’t quite get over the line. Now we just need to recover and go again in the next one.”

It is true that United might feel they should have won the match given the fact they twice led in the meeting at the King Power Stadium, but for this United team to be within touching distance of the top of the table this early on can only be seen as a positive.

“We deserved more. We must continue working,” David de Gea stated on social media over the weekend. Even the quieter members of the first-team dressing room are convinced by their new identity since Fernandes arrived.

In a months’ time we will have a far better idea of just how good this current United side really are, but crucially they appear to finally believe they can genuinely win a major trophy this season.

Manchester Evening News