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Tactical Masterclass : Bruno Fernandes


Bruno Fernandes is a Portuguese Footballer who plays as a Midfielder for Manchester United. The Portuguese star has previously played for teams Novara Calcio, Udiense Calcio, UC Sampadoria and  Sporting CP.  Bruno is a complete midfielder who is comfortable in playing all the positions around in the midfield. The player has previously played as Central Midfielder (No:8 and No:6) and as Central attacking Midfielder (No:10). Martelinho, the former Portuguese International  describes Bruno as “someone who plays ahead of a Defensive Midfielder, move Back and Forth and Attacks and Defends aggressively.” The Player has the ability to unlock defences and can provide balls into the Final third at an exponential rate. This article takes in depth look of how the Star of Old Trafford plays and and fits into an exciting Man Utd Team.   

bruno fernandes
Manchester United’s Midfielder Bruno Fernandes

Sporting CP days

To Understand the versatility and quality Bruno Brings into the Man UTD squad it is important to understand how he was set up in Sporting CP. The player essentially played under two managers in his tenure at the club who used him differently in different formations respectively. Under Jose Peseiro, Sporting were set up in a  4-2-3-1 formation where Bruno played as a Central Attacking Midfielder (No:10). The main job of Bruno under this system was to move the ball forward and look to provide for those final third passes in masses. After the sacking of Jose Peseiro ,

Bruno Under Marcel Keizer

Marcel Keizer was appointed as the New Sporting manager in November 2018. Keizer played Sporting under a 4-3-3 set up where Bruno was assigned the role of playing as a Central Midfielder more like a No:8 and No:6 role. The main function under this system for Bruno was to open up spaces for the other player around him and play as more of a zone to zone midfielder. The player has had the best time playing as a No:8 role in Sporting compared to No:10 role as the Portuguese had 1.1 goal per game playing as a No:8 role compared to No:10 role where he had 0.43 goals per game . Portugal’s Legendary Midfielder Rui Costa describes Bruno as an All Round player who can create , defend with a high work ethic added with a venomous goal scoring ability.

Bruno’s Overall Performance in Liga Nos

Bruno in his 2 seasons at Sporting CP in Liga Nos scored 24 goals and registered 18 assists. Bruno Fernandes is a complete product of how the modern game is adapting to more of not having a stationery No:10 player but more of versatile Midfielder who possess other qualities and offer more stability to other positions instead of being confined to one position. To take a perfect example, Mesut Ozil in Arsenal has been struggling a lot due to this shift in positions when teams move forward. Arsenal when move forward on counters look to attack from the wings which makes Ozil to shift towards the side-lines more and has less time to play centrally. This often leads to him either losing the ball or slowing down the play.

bruno fernandes sporting
Bruno in Sporting’s colors

Possible options of How Bruno can be Used in Different systems at Manchester United

After making a reported of a 60,00 mil. € move from Sporting to United , the player has been an instant sensation among the United supporters. This section deals with the ways that Ole and his Management team  can use the Portuguese superstar at United. Bruno can be  tactically be used in two ways. He can either be used as someone who can drop back and receive the ball and releasing it quickly to the wings or stay more central and move the ball forward into the final third.

He in my opinion is best when given a free role to adapt as per the game requires. The Midfielder is no doubt a scoring star as scored most goals by a midfielder in a single season (32) in 18/19 season. The player has been brought to United with an intention to play him as a No:10 player. It is so essential for Ole’s team and the way he structures a team to have a dependable and consistent No:10. The fact that Pereira and Gomes who are more of a natural no:10 have been involved in almost 56% of United’s chance creation whenever they have played , tells how crucial that position is in current setup .

Bruno as a Creator

  The Portugal Midfielder is one of the most reliable creator in world football right now. His playing style can be compared to more like Kevin De Bruyne who looks to whip crosses or play through balls to break defences apart. Ole has three ways to setup Bruno at Manchester United.

  1. He can be used Under the Pass and Move Tactic. Under this tactic Bruno can play a role similar to what he played in Sporting under Keizer. Bruno can drop behind the lines drawing one or two players with him. This open up spaces for other players to use the space drawn by Bruno and set up 2nd pass assists.
  2. The second way Ole can use the player is by using him as a ball receiver. This means that Bruno will play a similar role as that of Harry Winks at Tottenham which is to receive the ball and pass it to other players in open spaces quickly and moving through the zones therefore Bruno can be provider of important through balls into the final third as a more advanced Midfielder. This makes him a threat from outside the box too.
  3. The player can also be used as a defensive Midfielder in time of need. In the game against Qarabag FK. Bruno played as a defensive midfielder more as a No:6 player. the end result of the tactic was that Bruno has most touches(101) , most passes(83) , most shots(3) and most goals(2) in the game which saw Sporting win comfortably by scoring 6 goals.

Ole can also use Bruno to partner with Pogba as two Front CM’s. this will further help unlocking defenses of team which like to sit back .

Bruno Under OLE’S System

This section deals with how Ole has used Bruno Fernandes since his shift from Sporting to Man Utd. The Portuguese Magnifico has had most assists  by a Man Utd player (3) in 5 matches. Bruno has had an immense impact on the squad and takes a Commanding role in the centre of the pitch. The way he has played under Ole has been basically drawing players with him , opening up spaces for other to work with.

A Goal Scoring Threat

The player is a goal scoring threat so there is always a player man marked to him which makes it very easy for him to move the opposition players with him and which in turn helps Players like Fred to put in those 2nd pass assists. The perfect example being the game against Lask, where for the goal that was scored by Daniel James, Bruno actually opens up space for Fred as he takes a player away with him which then in turn helps up Fred to look for a pass to Ighalo with that ambient amount of space provided by Bruno in the midfield ultimately resulting in a goal.

Offensive Threat

The player is an Offensive Threat of high quality due to his foresightedness. He has an image in his head usually before the play is made which helps him adapt and helps the plan to be fruitful in the final third, a quality which United has been missing   hugely over the past few seasons. The player has 129 final 3rd passes this season which is 2nd highest in the league. The player is also a Goal scoring threat from the dead ball. Bruno has 1 goal and 2 assists to his name which is quite useful in breaking teams which likes to sit back and defend.

Read also : Manchester United women’s profile – Ella Toone

Counter attacking King

The player has also added value to the Counter Attacking threat. Since Bruno’s Arrival united has had 3.3 shots per game which has resulted in 35% goal scoring threats. The player counter attacking ability has also made it easier for United to find goal on a higher basis (1.1 per game) than prior to his arrival (0.4) . the player in the counter attacking system usually chooses two ways. The first being him able to defend higher and press the defenders which in turn increases the probability of them losing the possession. The second being dropping deeper and intercepting passes to change the trajectory from the opposition team attacking to unleashing United’s pacey Forward line.

What do you think of this Analysis. Do you think we need another Play maker to ease load on Bruno ?!

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