Few players have made an impact at a new club quite like Bruno Fernandes, and Nicole Deans already sees the midfield maestro as pivotal to Manchester United’s long-term vision.
What kind of player has the audacity to turn a football club completely on its head, make an impact in every game and, in his first Manchester Derby, tell the opposition manager – Pep Guardiola – to shut up?
Bruno Fernandes. That's who.
How did the signing that almost wasn't become so influential in such a short space of time?
Perhaps one of the most important factors is he has an attribute Manchester United have been crying out for: leadership. Talent only goes so far. With effort, even better. But with the right attitude as well? Dynamite.
Fernandes is a natural leader. He demands respect and is not shy when it comes to pulling his teammates up on where they need to improve. It's hard to comprehend that it was only a little over a month ago that United finally got their man in a reported deal of up to £68m from Sporting Lisbon.
In such a small space of time, Fernandes has already made his strong presence known and built up a rapport with fans and fellow players alike.
Talking of money, Fernandes has put his price tag where his mouth is. His form speaks for itself – eight games, three goals, three assists. Although statistically brilliant, it’s also worth recognising that United remain unbeaten since Fernandes’ arrival. A star player, sure, but also a team player. A rarity in itself.
If there was ever a doubt that he could translate this into big moments in big games, he calmly silenced them yesterday. His performance against Manchester City wasn't even his best – a tad sluggish to begin with, and not always fully controlled, yet he still made that all important contribution with an assist for Anthony Martial’s opener.
There’s also the argument of not unleashing his full potential in the game where he was ready and waiting. Rather than focus on the negatives, though, or single names out for all the wrong reasons, I’d rather give praise!
Fernandes has also injected much-needed creativity into a weathered United side. You can guarantee that the vast majority of United's best moves go through him. He's driven, focused, and fearless going forward.
To sum up, our new talisman has brought character, a drive to succeed, and the performance level to back it all up. He’s made the transition to the Premier League look easy.
At just 25-years-old, the most exciting prospect (and scary for some) is how much the Portugese midfielder can still improve!
There’s no doubt in my mind that he strives for perfection and, irrespective of everything he does so well, I know there’s a part of him that will focus on what he can still do better.
He’s a leader who knows how to help the team, and he doesn't strike me as a man to keep those musings to himself. There’s a renewed harmony and belief within the team – like the one I knew of old – following his arrival. That’s no coincidence.
Bruno Fernandes could well be the start of things to come, and a luminary for what Solskjær wants to achieve long-term.
Who cares where he shops and what he and his wife look like while doing so? Since his arrival, all I can say is…every little helps!