Manchester United v Wolves: Match in pictures
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Manchester United hero Andy Cole thinks Bruno Fernandes hasn’t been the same player for the club following the Hollywood homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo back in the summer. The Portugal midfielder was benched for Monday night’s defeat at Wolves. Though he came on, he looked flat and squandered a glorious chance to put his side ahead before Joao Moutinho’s late strike.
Manchester United signed Ronaldo back in the summer, beating Manchester City to the veteran in the process.
Yet though he’s done well since coming back, netting 14 goals across all competitions, he’s struggled to strike up a strong rapport with Fernandes.
When the club sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they were hopeful Ralf Rangnick could coax the best from the pair.
However, that hasn’t happened with the two appearing unable to operate in the same team.
On Monday, for United’s Premier League clash with Wolves, Fernandes was left on the bench.
And he squandered a huge chance to put his side ahead, smacking his effort against the bar from close range while the scores were level.
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Rangnick’s team ended up losing 1-0, with Moutinho scoring with less than 10 minutes on the clock to secure victory for the visitors.
And Cole, performing punditry duties, has now claimed Fernandes hasn’t been the same player since Ronaldo’s return.
He said: “He has to score, as simple as that.
“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.
“I looked at him this season, since Ronaldo’s come back and he hasn’t been the same player he was last season.
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“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.”
Fernandes has scored just once for United in his last 10 appearances for the club.
That goal came under Michael Carrick in the stirring 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford at the beginning of December.
And he’s now facing a huge fight to get into Rangnick’s team after being put on the bench for the match with Wolves.
Speaking after the Red Devils lost, Rangnick criticised his players and admitted the performance wasn’t good enough.
“We didn’t play well at all individually or collectively,” he said.
“In the first half, we had big problems to keep them away from our goal.
“In the second half we changed to a back three and had more control then a spell of 15 minutes where we could have scored.
“The goal we conceded, we had enough players in the box. The cross had been defended by Jones but the goal we conceded was like too many this season.
“Moutinho could shoot unmarked with no problems, no pressure. We’re very disappointed about the result and parts of our performance.
“They’re playing with four or five central midfielders and we had problems to control that part of the pitch.
“We decided to change our formation and we had more control – they didn’t have as many chances – but we missed our chances and we have to admit they deserved to win.
“Wolves were the best team we’ve played. We have more problems today than in other games.
“We didn’t press at all. We tried but we were not able to get into those pressing situations.
“They had an overload in midfield and they played via their wing-backs. We’ve been only working two and a half or three weeks after needing to close the training centre. We had the results. In times we played well but today we have to admit they’re better than us.”
United are next in action against Aston Villa on Monday in the FA Cup third round (7.55pm).
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