Trailing miserably with a shocking 4-1 deficit to Tottenham at the half time break and down to ten men after an Anthony Martial eviction, tempers in the Manchester United dressing room were in disarray, reaching the penultimate boiling point, according to earlier reports.
A source told The Athletic:
“It is not uncommon for a forward to turn round to a defender and say, ‘Any chance of you keeping a clean sheet?’ Sometimes if there’s a bottle in hand things start flying. It can be good to have those exchanges.”
Featuring at the heart of the ruckus was none other than Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes, which shouldn’t by now be surprising to those well acquainted with the rambunctious, explosive disposition of the flamboyantly-vocal Portuguese. As a matter of fact, that’s probably part of the reason why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed him on, apart from his football skills and leadership aptitude, of course.
Recalling the days when the temperamental midfielder was at Sporting Lisbon, Fernandes recorded a voice note in which he unleashed a full vocal blitz, with language a ‘la Roy Keane, at his team-mates for a dismal performance.
Having been subsequently leaked, the voice note quoted the now United midfielder as saying, per Portuguese publication, Record:
“Bro, I don’t say anything! I honestly, if you want me to tell you, I’d rather not comment on anything.
“I think very badly of some of the attitude of some players. Actually not a certain attitude, it’s an attitude that does not exist. There are players who have no attitude here, bro. They don’t want to be here, they don’t want to play.
“They don’t want to be here then f*** off, let them say they don’t want to play. They spend a year here getting money, and then they f*** off, bro. S*** attitude bro, for f**** sake.”
On another occasion that also seemed to merit the unleashing of the Portuguese’s equally colorful verbal ebullience, Fernandes hit out at the Portuguese media, lashing them in support of the Sporting fans, who were angrily protesting against the Lisbon club in 2018.
“They are focused on talking badly about players and giving news that only causes confusion and s***,” said Fernandes.
“Just yesterday ‘invasion of supporters’. What invasion? They went there to complain, it’s their right! They went there to sing and send some words.
“What do we want? We don’t beat anyone and we want what? Applause in all games? That’s all I needed, bro! Come and cheer us always! We lost at home against Famalicao and we want to be applauded… Applauded?”
The report in the Daily Mail went on to say that Fernandes not only didn’t shy away at all from what he had said on the voice note, when it eventually came to light but instead actively stood by it.
No doubt Premier League football fans by now would have seen instances when Fernandes highly volatile temperament has been on display in matches, to put it mildly, as in the case of Manchester United’s win over Man City in March when Fernandes was seen engaged briefly in a touchline spat with none other than the highly-respectable Pep Guardiola.
The colorful exchange concluded with Fernandes raising a finger to his lips as an admonition to the erstwhile Man City boss.
Post-match, Fernandes again stuck by his seemingly disrespectful gesture vis-à-vis Guardiola, telling the press:
“Some people think like, ‘Pep won everything, who is Bruno to do this to him?’ But I think it’s about respect. Now, outside of the pitch, calm, I don’t do this again if I’m on the pitch now.
“But at that moment, the words he told me made me mad and on the pitch I’m a little bit nervous. It’s the kind of player I am.”
One can’t help but ponder what it was Pep Guardiola said to Fernandes that had riled him so much. But Solskjaer was quick to come to the defender’s defense, even actually praising his “risk-taker”.
“He works hard, he is humble enough, he’s got the desire and commitment, but he’s also got the X-factor. He is a risk-taker, he’s got the courage to make mistakes and if you make enough mistakes it’ll be corrected into fantastic assists or goals.
“You need a character here, you need character at this club, but this team they have got that. They have learned through some hard times this season, because we have been a young team and we have started something we believe in and Bruno has helped that.”
Fernandes reportedly displayed his flamboyant character once again in the dressing room United’s recent debacle against Tottenham, although by then it was ‘too little too late’ where the doomed Old Trafford side was concerned.
Optimistically, for United, eruptions of such volcanic nature by the fiery Fernandes will be hopefully catalytic to imminent change at Old Trafford, where it will again require Solskjaer’s “risk-taker” to make the compelling difference once again to put boot to his teammates’ butts.