BRUNO FERNANDES is finally coming to terms with no longer being Manchester United’s main man.
Now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes his Portuguese playmaker has rediscovered his mojo going into this week’s crucial games against Atalanta and Manchester City.
Fernandes’ nose was well and truly put out of joint by the deadline-day signing of his international team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
For the previous 18 months he had relished his status as the Old Trafford idol with the entire team being set up around his talents.
But everything changed when Ronaldo returned to become the sole focus of attention.
And Fernandes found himself trying a bit too hard to recapture top dog status and ended up playing his team into trouble as a consequence.
But a long, hard chat with boss Solskjaer following last week’s Liverpool humiliation appears to have got him back on track.
And the change of formation which gave him free rein to try all his tricks behind Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani worked wonders as United took hapless Spurs to the cleaners in Saturday’s 3-0 win.
It was his sublime pass which teed up Ronaldo’s 39th-minute volley and his tackle on Oliver Skipp which set up Cavani’s first goal of the season to secure the victory.
A delighted Solskjaer said: “What a ball for Ronaldo’s goal. Bruno really shows his quality when he plays those passes.
“I’ve been on to him lately about his decision-making because in some games he’s been a bit wasteful and taking too many risks.
“But Bruno has to be allowed to play that pass if he sees Cristiano, Cavani and Marcus Rashford in position and he’s getting better at that which is good.”
Rashford completed United’s comfortable win and Solskjaer could not have asked for more accommodating opponents than Spurs to ease the pressure which had been building after their Liverpool defeat.
But he also benefited from a rare free week to put things right as a result of United’s early exit from the Carabao Cup.
I stayed away from most of the noise but I knew what was happening out there and I knew we had to put out a performance against Spurs.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Solskjaer explained: “We needed a whole week to work on this performance and it’s probably the last time for a while that we’ll have so much time to focus on our fitness and our mentality.
“I stayed away from most of the noise but I knew what was happening out there and I knew we had to put out a performance against Spurs.
“We changed our tactics and our formation and it’s always nice to have four days to be able to do that.”
With three at the back and four defensive players in midfield, it is difficult to see where Paul Pogba will fit in when he completes his three-match ban after the forthcoming international break.
But one player who certainly will not be making way for his return is unsung hero Scott McTominay.
While everyone else was raving about the performances of Ronaldo, Fernandes and Cavani at Spurs, Solskjaer chose to sing the praises of Scotland international McTominay.
He said: “Scott was man of the match for me by a mile and we’ve seen that kind of performance before.
“He’s had his struggles with a groin injury and an operation this season but he was brilliant.
“He won tackles, he drove us forward, he kept the ball simple, he switched play and he headed away a few set-plays. He was absolutely top.”
Now Solskjaer must decide whether to stick with this winning formula against Atalanta tomorrow and City on Saturday.
The pressure might be off for the moment but get it wrong again and he will soon be back under the hammer.
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