Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag mounted a spirited defense of Bruno Fernandes, after his team’s 7-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool, declaring that the Portuguese midfielder will continue to serve as one of his captains at Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old Fernandes has received harsh criticism for his performance at Anfield and has had the armband called off of him. Gary Neville, a Sky Sports analyst and former United defender, called Fernandes “a disgrace,” but Ten Hag is backing him.
“I think he is playing a brilliant season and he has played a big role in us being where we are,” Ten Hag told a news conference on Wednesday. “He is an inspiration to the team; everyone makes mistakes and we learn. I have to learn and he will as well.”
“He is intelligent. I’m really pleased he is our player and he is captain when Harry [Maguire] is not playing.”
Asked whether Fernandes would still be captain in the future, Ten Hag said: “Yes, definitely.”
Ten Hag made his remarks prior to United’s Europa League round of 16 first-leg matchup against Real Betis on Thursday at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford joined the Dutchman at the press conference, and he refuted suggestions that United “gave up” after giving up six goals in the second half.
“We didn’t give up — that’s nonsense,” Rashford said. “We were unorganised, communication was bad; that’s why we conceded the goals.
Bruno Fernandes has contributed seven goals and 11 assists in 40 matches in all competitions this season.
“But I believe everyone was trying to get back into the game that much, we came away from the principles too much, the forwards were trying to press as a unit but we weren’t connected with the midfield.
“We were trying to get a grip of the game at 2-0 and 3-0, we were talking but we weren’t in agreement with what to do, it’s happened, we can learn from it and move on. I’m happy and grateful we have another game quickly because we have an opportunity to take a step forward.”