EPL

Man Utd star Fernandes lauds Maguire amid criticism and social media noise

By Sports Desk October 17, 2020

Bruno Fernandes heaped praise on "big player" Harry Maguire after the under-fire defender responded to criticism by scoring in Manchester United's 4-1 Premier League victory at Newcastle United.

Maguire entered Saturday's showdown under the microscope and his position in question following a red card for England during their Nations League loss to Denmark during the week.

But the world's most expensive centre-back bounced back amid his struggles for club and country at St James' Park, where he headed in a 23rd-minute equaliser to cancel out Luke Shaw's second-minute own goal before Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford scored during the closing stages.

Fernandes, who missed a penalty, hailed Maguire in the midst of external and social media noise, which came to a head during the previous transfer window as fans demanded new signings.

"We are happy for Harry. Harry is a big player. He is playing for the one of the biggest teams in the world, he is captain of one of the biggest teams in the world and he plays for a big national team," Fernandes – directly involved in 19 goals in his 18 Premier League appearances, scoring in each of his last three matches – told MUTV.

"I think it's bad to be under fire but he has a great mentality. He needs to keep doing what he did today, not about the goal he scored because it's not what he has to do but defending like he has to do and giving us the chance up front to be secure when we lose the ball. We have a great defence with him and the guys who played today and the others who were on the bench or at home.

"Everyone is talking about we need a defender, midfielder, a striker, a winger, it's easier talking from outside saying we need everything without being on the pitch. I think, us, we need to look for each other, help each other and be positive as a team.

"We can defend ourselves on the pitch, not on social media. It was important for me to talk in that moment after the national team, I have no problem talking openly about nothing. The most important thing was the response we gave on the pitch."

United also responded collectively from their 6-1 humbling at the hands of Jose Mourinho's Tottenham prior to the international break.

The Red Devils had lost two of their opening three Premier League fixtures before enjoying their 10th comeback win against Newcastle in England's top flight – the most by any side against a single opponent in the competition, per Opta.

"I think the team has big characters and big players," Portugal international Fernandes, who missed his first penalty for United in what was his 11th spot-kick taken since joining from Sporting CP in January, added.

"What happened against Tottenham can't happen again. We play for such a big club and such a big team. This club deserves better than that. Everyone needs to be better, starting with me, I need to look at myself first and then at what the group needs to do better.

"Today it was perfect, after that defeat. I think we need to continue improving, don’t concede goals, as I said before, and keep scoring."

United are 14th in the Premier League table through four games, seven points adrift of leaders Everton.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United will open their Champions League campaign at last season's finalists Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

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