Fernandes not 'the same player' since Ronaldo's return, says Cole

Bruno Fernandes ‘hasn’t been the same player’ since Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United, insists Andy Cole… with ex-striker claiming midfielder’s ‘WHOLE game’ has changed

  • Bruno Fernandes scored 28 goals for Man United during the 2020-21 season 
  • Portugal midfielder however has scored just twice since opening day this term 
  • His frustrations in front of goal continued in Monday night’s defeat by Wolves 
  • And Andy Cole believes his form has turned since Cristiano Ronaldo’s return 

Andy Cole believes Bruno Fernandes has suffered as a result of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United last summer, claiming the midfielder ‘is not the same player he was last season.’

The 27-year-old scored 28 goals and recorded 17 assists in 58 appearances across all competitions in 2020-21, 18 and 11 of which came in 37 Premier League games respectively.

However, Fernandes has scored just five goals this term in 24 appearances and has netted just twice since the opening day of the current top-flight season.

Bruno Fernandes (L) has not been the same player since the return of Cristiano Ronaldo (R), according to Andy Cole

Fernandes has scored just five goals this season and just twice since the opening day

The former Sporting Lisbon midfielder’s frustrations in front of goal continued on Monday night when he could only rattle the bar from point-blank range following Nemanja Matic cut-back in the 1-0 reverse by Wolves, when it was still goalless. 

And speaking to Premier League Productions, former United striker Cole – who scored 121 goals in 275 matches for the club – said Fernandes’ struggles could be the result of his ‘whole game’ changing since the return of Ronaldo, 36, from Juventus. 

‘He has to score, as simple as that,’ Cole said. ‘He gets into a great position and that’s a tap-in for him.

‘It’s been funny at the moment. Ronaldo’s come back and it’s like [Bruno’s] whole game has changed.

His goal frustrations continued against Wolves after missing a gilt-edged chance for United

‘I looked at him this season, since Ronaldo’s come back and he hasn’t been the same player he was last season.


‘And you look at that and think – why? He has the quality, he shouldn’t worry about whether Ronaldo’s in the team because they’re both quality players who want the same thing.

‘But his form has changed since Ronaldo has come back.’

However, club legend Rio Ferdinand fears his old side are in fact wasting Ronaldo by not playing to his strengths.

And Cole (above) believes the Portugal midfielder’s form has changed since Ronaldo’s return

He said: ‘My biggest gripe is that if you’ve got [Edinson] Cavani and Ronaldo in your team — two of probably the best attackers of the ball from wide areas — and you don’t play with any real width or any people that are capable of putting the ball in good areas — then it almost feels like a pointless task.

‘You’ve got to play to their strengths. It’s like when we played Falcao years ago. You bring in someone great at attacking balls, but then never cross the ball. How can you expect them to produce the goods?’

United remain four points adrift of the Champions League places following Joao Moutinho’s winner for the West Midlands outfit.

The Portuguese duo will now turn their attention to back-to-back clashes against Aston Villa, with the first an FA Cup third-round clash at Old Trafford on Monday before their Premier League meeting at Villa Park five days later. 

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