Steve Bruce believes comparisons between Bruno Fernandes and Eric Cantona should be tempered until the Portuguese wins trophies at Manchester United.
Fernandes has been a galvanising force since his arrival at Old Trafford from Sporting Lisbon a little over a year ago and already has 21 goals and 12 assists in all competitions this season.
The impact he has made has been likened to when Cantona joined the Red Devils nearly 30 years ago, with the Frenchman’s signing often hailed as the final piece of the jigsaw that preceded a period of sustained success.
Bruce recognises how influential Fernandes has been but feels the attacking midfielder can only be put alongside his former United team-mate by bringing some silverware to the club.
“What you have to judge people on over a period of time is what they’ve won. Certainly, Eric for us, was the catalyst to go and win things,” Bruce said ahead of Newcastle’s trip to Old Trafford on Sunday evening.
“The way Fernandes has played in the last 12 months, it feels a bit like Eric because it’s his stage. Eric adored everything that went with playing for arguably the biggest and best club in the world.
“Fernandes has done fantastically well in doing that, it’s his stage. For it to be even suggested that he’s on the same hymn sheet as Eric is a wonderful compliment to him.
“Now they have to go and achieve and win things the way Eric did, and on big occasions win cup finals and semi-finals. If he does that, then of course you can compare him to Eric.”
By Pete Smith
Bruno Fernandes arrived at Manchester United on January 30, 2020 and spoke of his fond memories of watching Cristiano Ronaldo light up Old Trafford. Twelve months on, he is their star now.
United’s supporters were yearning for a game-changing signing during last winter’s window and, with just a day to go, they got it, with Fernandes’ £46.6m transfer from Sporting Lisbon.
He hit the ground running in stunning style and has continued to be United’s difference-maker, inspiring an unexpected rise to the top of the Premier League table last month.
The statistics tell one side of the story, reflecting the remarkable impact the 26-year-old has had at United.
There have been 28 goals and 17 assists across his 52 appearances. Since he made his debut against Wolves on February 1, no Premier League player has more goal involvements across all competitions for their club.
Fernandes was the top scorer in the Europa League last season, helping United reach the semi-finals, while he has scooped up player-of-the-month awards in record-breaking fashion. Unsurprisingly, he was awarded United’s player-of-the-year prize, too.
But Fernandes’ influence stretches beyond his formidable figures for goals, assists, and individual prizes. This is a player who has improved those around him.