Rene Meulensteen believes Solskjaer’s New Year Wish should be that Bruno Fernandes stays fit in 2021 because Manchester United have just two player’s who can fill his boots.
Fernandes has been involved in 52% of the club’s goals since he moved to United from Sporting Lisbon 11 months ago and he provided a goal and an assist in their 2-2 draw with Leicester City.
United are heavily reliant on the creativity of Fernandes and he’s been behind their recent good form, with the Red Devils now trailing leaders Liverpool by five points.
And Meulensteen, who was a coach under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford concedes United can ill-afford to lose the player but says either Paul Pogba or Van de Beek could fill in if he’s absent.
The Portugal international was only behind Harry Maguire for minutes played in 2020 at the club and players are vulnerable to injury in the congested festive period.
‘I think United can only have one New Year’s Wish and that’s for Fernandes not to get injured or suspended,’ Meulensteen told Stadium Astro.
‘His energy is unbelievable. Look at this goal again – it’s absolutely fantastic. The timing of the run and ball from Edinson Cavani is fantastic.
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‘As soon as Fernandes gets on the ball the likes of Marcus Rashford are on their way. Fernandes is just so, so important for United. He gives them rhythm, he’s a winner, he’s a leader, he creates assists and he scores goals.’
Van de Beek has struggled for game time at United thus far while Pogba has been in and out of the team due to lacklustre form.
‘They have other players that can go in that position like Pogba or Donny van de Beek but they don’t have the same impact as him,’ admitted Meulensteen.
‘I’m so impressed by his energy levels. He’s not afraid to work hard. He’s always trying to hurt the opposition with a pass in behind, he’s not afraid to shoot from distance. ‘It’s a player that United rely on heavily. I’m sure that if he wasn’t there it would have an effect on United’s form.’