EPL

Neville impressed by Bruno Fernandes' Man Utd debut despite Veron concerns

By Sports Desk February 01, 2020

Gary Neville saw signs of Juan Sebastian Veron in Bruno Fernandes' debut for Manchester United, but was ultimately encouraged by the midfielder's display.

Fernandes played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford on Saturday as United were held to a 0-0 Premier League draw by Wolves.

The Portugal international, signed in a move that could eventually be worth £67million from Sporting CP, had five shots, three of which were on target, and attempted a game-high 88 passes, though he did not directly create a chance for any of his team-mates.

Neville saw enough to take the positives from Fernandes' composed start, but felt a positional switch paid dividends after initially comparing his efforts in the number 10 role to those of Veron, who struggled to fit in with United between 2001 and 2003.

"It's early days but I like what he did," former United defender Neville said of Fernandes on Sky Sports. "I thought he did okay, it was a difficult game for him. 

"We've heard a lot about his assists and his goals and how he can affect games at the front of the pitch, but when he was moved into more of a holding midfield role alongside Fred in the second half I actually thought he did quite well. 

"He showed a lot of experience and discipline to not expose himself too much.

"In the first half he was in a number 10 role and he reminded me a bit of what Juan Sebastien Veron used to do when he first came to Manchester United. 

"He charged around everywhere and moved everywhere. He was busy and was looking for spaces but didn't really play in a position.

"I preferred him in the second half when he was a little more controlled and I thought it was a decent debut from him. 

"Fred has emerged in recent weeks and those two could control games - there is some promise there." 

However, Neville was less complimentary about United's last-gasp signing of striker Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, describing it as a desperate move.

While ex-Watford striker Ighalo could succeed, the eight-time Premier League winner is baffled how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were scrambling around on deadline day so long after Romelu Lukaku, now with Inter, expressed his desire to leave.

Neville said: "They just needed a body in that area, Marcus Rashford's going to be out for another couple of months. I can't let the club off the hook though, unfortunately.

"Romelu Lukaku told us a couple of weeks ago that he had said he was going to leave last February or March. That's nine months to be able to manoeuvre and get into a position to sign a striker for the club for the long-term. 

"And yet they have ended up desperately doing one on deadline day.

"The boy may do very well. He might come in and settle in, he might score goals and do a job for the club.

"But the fact that the club were in that position, knowing that Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku were leaving for many, many months, tells us that Manchester United, at this moment in time, are struggling to navigate through the transfer market smartly."

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