EPL

Fernandes says Man Utd can bounce back, but Haaland boasts: 'Manchester is blue!'

By Sports Desk October 02, 2022

Bruno Fernandes admitted Manchester United were destined to lose the derby from the opening minutes because they did not trust themselves.

The midfielder was part of a team over-run by a vibrant Manchester City, who tore to a 6-3 victory thanks to hat-tricks from Erling Haaland and Phil Foden.

City led 4-0 at half-time and later held a 6-1 cushion, before United grabbed a pair of late replies from substitute Anthony Martial.

It was gruesome watching for anyone on the red side of Manchester, particularly as United had been on a four-game winning run in the Premier League going into the game.

"The belief from the beginning was not the best and I think that caused us many problems and made us concede early goals," said Fernandes.

Fernandes captained United in the absence of the injured Harry Maguire, but he could not imbue the side with the confidence to shake off a rocky start.

"I think the second half was much better," Fernandes said. "We kept control more, we controlled the game whenever we had the ball. We were down on the result, so we had to take some risks.

"And obviously, when we took that risk, we scored straight away. We tried to [go forward] a little bit more, but then we conceded more goals. You can't give that much space to City."

United 'won' the second half 3-2, but it was emphatically City's day.

Fernandes has just one goal and one assist in seven Premier League games this season, after 10 goals and six assists last term.

In the previous campaign he managed 18 goals and 12 assists, so new boss Erik ten Hag will be hoping to draw that mercurial level of form from the Portuguese playmaker, rather than the watered-down version that has been served up of late.

"Obviously, we are really disappointed," said Fernandes, speaking to MUTV. "But now it is time to focus on the next game and understand we have to get back the performances we did before [the international break], and the belief and togetherness, and understand that this cannot get us down. It has to make us improve for the future."

The next game for United is a Europa League meeting with Omonia in Cyprus on Thursday, while they return to Premier League duty at Everton on Sunday.

Haaland used his social media accounts to gloat after his and City's sublime performance, declaring: "Manchester is blue!"

Fernandes and United are in no position to question City's superiority at present, and it is a rebuilding job again, just as it was after the early season losses to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford.

United followed those setbacks by beating Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester City and Arsenal.

Everton, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Chelsea present their opposition over the next four games, with Fernandes eager to banish the derby blues.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we've had tough games before and won them," he said, "so I think it's about mentality, attitude, togetherness and belief in the process."

Related items

  • Blue cards and sin bin trials set for further discussion by football’s lawmakers Blue cards and sin bin trials set for further discussion by football’s lawmakers

    Sin bin trials featuring blue cards will be the subject of further discussion by the game’s lawmakers on Friday and Saturday.

    The sin bin protocols, which would involve players being dismissed for 10 minutes for dissent and tactical fouls, had been signed off by the directors of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and were ready for publication on February 9, at which point competitions would have been able to apply to conduct a trial.

    However, the plug was pulled on publication that morning following media reports about blue cards the previous day.

    FIFA issued a statement on the evening of February 8 saying the reports concerning a blue card at elite levels of football were “incorrect and premature”.

    “Any such trials, if implemented, should be limited to testing in a responsible manner at lower levels, a position that FIFA intends to reiterate when this agenda item is discussed at the IFAB AGM on March 2,” the statement concluded.

    Sin bins have already been tested successfully in grassroots and youth football, but the PA news agency understands the intention of the protocols which were pulled at the last minute had been to test them at much higher levels, with the only exception being senior national team competitions and the highest domestic league in any country, where a team had the ability to qualify for a continental competition.

    The idea had been that the protocols could be introduced to the very top level once refined. All players on the pitch, including goalkeepers, could be sent to the sin bin under the original protocol, PA understands, but substitutes and coaching staff could not be.

    Fouls such as the cynical tug by Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini on England’s Bukayo Saka in the Euro 2020 final was set to be a sin bin offence within one of the protocols, PA understands.

    FIFA’s statement last month contrasted with comments from the chairman of its referees committee Pierluigi Collina at the IFAB annual business meeting last November.

    The Italian said at the time: “The trial was very successful in a grassroots competition. Now we are talking of a higher level, very probably professional or even high professional football.

    “We need to draft something that works or is worthy for top football.”

    The Football Association, one of the five bodies which makes up the IFAB, was understood to have been interested in running a trial in the men’s and women’s FA Cups in the future.

    It is not clear whether the sin bin trial protocols will be published in the same format planned on February 9 following Saturday’s annual general meeting at Loch Lomond, but pitched at lower-level competitions than originally intended, or whether the protocols themselves will be reworked and publication delayed beyond this weekend.

    A first meeting is due to take place on Friday evening ahead of the AGM itself on Saturday morning.

    The introduction of sin bin trials and the blue card at any level of the professional game would mark the biggest single shift in player discipline since the introduction of red and yellow cards for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

    The IFAB had also been poised to publish details of a trial which gave referees the option of creating a ‘captain-only zone’ around them when they felt threatened or intimidated, and one giving the referee the option to send teams to a cooling-off area in the event of mass confrontations.

    All of these had the intention of improving player behaviour, something FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said is essential to set the right example to young players and ensure people still feel safe, and encouraged, to be referees.

    Another trial that had been set for publication on February 9 concerned how long goalkeepers can handle the ball, and how play should restart when they hold on too long.

    Currently keepers can hold on for six seconds and anything over that is supposed to be penalised with an indirect free-kick, but lawmakers are concerned this is not being properly enforced.

    The management of head injuries is also on the AGM agenda.

    The World Leagues Forum and world players’ union FIFPRO have again written to the IFAB asking for permission to trial temporary concussion substitutes, something which was again rejected at last year’s AGM in London.

    The player union and domestic league in Scotland, this year’s host nation, are among those seeking the right to conduct such a trial.

    “From our perspective, we have a responsibility to those former players who are sadly living with dementia,” PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said.

    “But we also have to take responsibility as a game – whether it’s the unions, leagues, the government bodies – for current players and future players, to minimise the chances, as much as we possibly can, of players getting dementia. We’re involved in this initiative because we do feel that temporary concussion subs are the next step forward.”

    Trials of permanent concussion substitutes were first approved by the IFAB in December 2020.

  • Eddie Howe says his Newcastle future ‘will be defined by what I do, no one else’ Eddie Howe says his Newcastle future ‘will be defined by what I do, no one else’

    Eddie Howe has insisted he will dictate his own future at Newcastle amid speculation linking the Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann with his job.

    The Magpies head into Saturday’s Premier League clash with Wolves sitting in 10th place and way off the pace they set last season to secure a top-four finish.

    A report from Germany has claimed Newcastle could turn to the former Bayern boss if they decide to replace Howe at the end of the campaign.

    Asked about the speculation, Howe said: “Genuinely, it doesn’t affect me. I’m here. I’m sat in the seat. My future will be defined by what I do, no one else.”

    Howe has made a major impact at St James’ Park since his appointment in November 2021, first steering the club out of a relegation fight and then masterminding a charge to last season’s Carabao Cup final and Champions League qualification.

    He freely admits that represented a significant overachievement, and a premature exit from Europe coupled with a far more mundane campaign this time around, one which has been peppered with injuries to key players, have led to a degree of criticism.

    However, head coach Howe remains defiant as he plots a strong finish having seen his side book a difficult FA Cup quarter-final trip to Manchester City in midweek.

    He said: “It’s up to me to continually prove [myself]. I back myself and my ability. I know my qualities. I know what I bring to the job and I have ambitions for the team and the club.

    “I can’t control what people write and what speculation there is in every sense. I don’t try to get involved in it.”

    Howe was appointed by the club’s new owners within weeks of their takeover and has enjoyed solid support for the work he has done so far.

    He said: “From the people at the club – it is difficult for me to speak for them – I have felt a support and an understanding for things that have been thrown at us and things that have happened. It is important I feel that support.”

    Whatever pressure Howe finds himself under, he at least has an outlet after revealing his efforts to learn how to play the piano are ongoing.

    Asked if his wife and sons were impressed by his efforts, he said with a smile: “No, they’re not impressed. The two elder sons that play are both better than me.

    “When I’m playing the piano, I’m not thinking of 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. It is a chance to get away. It’s a rare moment for me to do that because in most other parts of my life, like walking the dog or going to sleep, I’m thinking about football.

    “But the rare things you can occupy your brain with do take you away from the game.”

    When it was suggested he might have to perform karaoke if his team won the FA Cup, he replied: “If we win a cup, I’ll do anything.”

  • Marcus Rashford hits back at criticism over his commitment to Manchester United Marcus Rashford hits back at criticism over his commitment to Manchester United

    Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has hit back following criticism concerning his commitment to the club.

    The 26-year-old England international has faced questions this season for issues both on and off the field.

    Last month Rashford was under the spotlight after reportedly being seen in a Belfast nightclub before missing the following day’s training due to illness and he subsequently missed United’s FA Cup tie against Newport.

    However, in a piece for the Players’ Tribune website, Rashford has responded to his critics, asking them to show “a bit more humanity”.

    “When I make a mistake, I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say that I need to do better,” he wrote.

    “But if you ever question my commitment to Man United, that’s when I have to speak up. It’s like somebody questioning my entire identity, and everything I stand for as a man.

    “I grew up here. I have played for this club since I was a boy. My family turned down life-changing money when I was a kid so I could wear this badge.

    “I can take any criticism. I can take any headline. From podcasts, social media and the papers. I can take it.

    “But if you start questioning my commitment to this club and my love for football and bringing my family into it, then I’d simply ask you to have a bit more humanity.”

    Rashford came under scrutiny in October last year after attending a nightclub party following United’s 3-0 home derby defeat to Manchester City.

    He has also faced criticism for performances on the pitch having scored only five goals in 32 appearances across all competitions this season.

    The forward suggested there is a “tone” to media coverage surrounding him, which he believes may stem from his campaigning for free school meals during the pandemic in which he was made an MBE.

    Rashford added: “I’m not trying to have a go at the media. I understand the game, you know what I mean? They’re not really writing about me. It’s like they’re writing about this character, ‘Marcus Rashford.’

    “It can’t just be about me as a 26-year-old lad on a night out, or a lad getting a parking ticket. It’s got to be about how much my car costs, guessing my weekly salary, my jewellery or even my tattoos.

    “It’s got to be about my body language, and questioning my morals, and speculating about my family, and my football future.

    “There’s a tone to it that you don’t get with all footballers. Let’s just leave it at that.

    “I think some of it goes back to the pandemic. I was just trying to use my voice to make sure that kids weren’t going hungry, because I know exactly how it feels.

    “For some reason, that seemed to rub certain people the wrong way. It seems like they’ve been waiting for me to have a human moment so they can point the finger and say, ‘See? See who he really is?’.”

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