Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has likened January signing Bruno Fernandes to Paul Scholes and Juan Sebastian Veron after he inspired Manchester United to victory over Watford.
Fernandes opened his account for his new club with an audacious first-half penalty at Old Trafford and had a hand in Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood’s goals as United won 3-0 to secure back-to-back league victories for only the third time this season.
Solskjaer believes Fernandes’ latest performance was evidence he possesses all of the attributes of a Manchester United player, and highlighted traits the Portuguese has in common with two of his former team-mates.
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“In today’s market I think we got a good deal,” Solskjaer told his post-match press conference. “He has come in and done really well, given everyone a boost, that means more than getting a player in.
“He has done something to the crowd. You can see with the supporters, they are used to players with that personality, mentality and quality, all the attributes of a Manchester United player the fans have seen many, many times before.
“From day one, the first minute, he has felt like a presence in the group, demanding the ball from his first training session. Some players take time warming up, but he felt confident straight away.
13 – Bruno Fernandes has scored each of the last 13 penalties he has taken in top-flight football (12/12 with Sporting CP and 1/1 with Man Utd) since missing for Udinese in April 2016. Nonchalant. pic.twitter.com/FnQyYSVwM8
“He’s a bit of a mix between Scholes and Veron to be fair, the temperament of Veron and a lot of the quality of him and Scholes.
“He has done fantastically. He is showing his personality, he’s a Manchester United character who wants to step out at Old Trafford, wants the ball all the time, wants to control the rhythm, help out his team-mates and conduct the play. The way he took the penalty was fantastic.”
‘Important month in race for Europe’
United climbed up to fifth as a result of Sunday’s 3-0 victory and to within three points of Chelsea in fourth, as their push for Champions League qualification gathered pace.
“Very important [to get back-to-back wins],” Solskjaer added. “We’ve given ourselves a mountain to climb at times, winning games and then losing and not being consistent. So to get six points, two clean sheets in six days in great.
Everton vs Man Utd
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“We want to be in the Champions League. We’ve got four big games coming up in the league – Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham, Sheffield United – all teams around the top of the table. It’s an important month for us.”
A good week for Martial
A run of three games in a week for Manchester United began with Solskjaer insisting Martial was capable of filling the void left by Marcus Rashford, who it was revealed may not return from injury this season.
3 – Anthony Martial has scored in three successive appearances in all club competitions for the first time since September 2017. Dink. pic.twitter.com/fGa4by98pW
Doubts remained over Martial’s suitability to the centre-forward role but the Frenchman has answered some of his critics and repaid his manager’s faith with strikes away at Chelsea and Club Brugge before finding the target with a wonderful chipped finish against Watford.
“Absolute top-class skill,” Solskjaer replied, when asked about Martial’s strike. “Good run in behind, it looks like the chance is over, but he shows that skill so many times.
“This week has been a good one for him; header [at Chelsea], a proper centre forwards goal, then against Brugge he scored an individual goal where he grafts and wins the ball, and then this skilful one.”
Greenwood in the goals
Greenwood followed Martial’s lead by adding United’s third and final goal with yet another devastating finish to put the seal on an impressive attacking performance.
It means only five players in history have scored five goals in the Premier League at a younger age than United’s promising 18-year-old – Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Francis Jeffers, James Milner and Alan Smith.
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