Manchester United great Roy Keane was critical of Bruno Fernandes following an interview the Portuguese gave ahead of Sunday’s derby.
“People now care more about the stats than the performance – and this is the truth,” Fernandes told Sky Sports. “Because now they are expecting from me just goals and assists and not performances. They don’t care about the performance of Bruno, they don’t care about how many ball recoveries, how many chances created. I can create 10 chances but if I don’t score people will say I don’t play well.”
Fernandes is a key player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and has started 26 of their 27 Premier League matches this season, returning 15 goals and 11 assists.
The Portuguese midfielder generally plays the full 90 minutes in every game, but former United midfielder Keane has been unimpressed by his body language when he has been substituted.
Here the full transcript of Keane’s debate with former Liverpool midfielder Souness on Sky Sports, which Micah Richards was also involved in.
Keane: “That (Fernandes’ interview) was bizarre. There was a lot of nonsense there, wasn’t there? He’s talking about his stats, just get on with being a footballer. He’s talking about ex-players and pundits, I don’t know why these players worry about pundits, just get on with it. Not really, no [I didn’t listen to external criticism when I was a player].”
Richards: “It’s different now with social media. You can be having the best day in the world, you can go on Twitter and it can swallow you. Roy’s right – he shouldn’t be looking at that stuff. But at the end of the day we’re humans, you can be looking at something totally different and your name pops up. I can sympathise with Bruno because he’s a top player and he’s done really good things since he’s come in here, yet he’s not won titles, he’s not won anything
Keane: “Nobody said he’s not done well. He’s done great, he’s been brilliant. But he’s playing for Man United and he doesn’t perform in certain games he’s going to be criticised. He’s talking about wanting to win titles, he’s never won one, so it’s difficult for him. He’s right in a sense that when Man United play badly, he does get criticised. Other lads have to turn up as well. Of course we can’t just keep saying it’s up to him but he’s a big player for them and if he doesn’t turn up in the big games he’s going to be criticised obviously… We’ve seen him get taken off in a few of the games and his body language wasn’t great.”
Souness: “Would your’s have been? Being hooked, would you be any different?”
Keane: “I’d make sure it didn’t happen. But Graeme, there’s nothing wrong with being taken off and shaking your head for 10 seconds, but if you’re walking off and one of your team-mates is coming on and you’re throwing your arms up in the air, that’s disrespectful to your team-mate and you’re on about a leader.”
Souness: “You want to see that from your player… you want to see that from your player. I’m not sure if I would’ve just shaken my head – it never happened to me.”
Keane: “If I was coming on and the player coming off was shaking his head, almost disrespecting you, I’d be like: ‘And I’m coming on for you?’
“You’d have a quiet word with him in the dressing room and he’s done it a number of times, he’s on about maturity and defending his team-mates, well, show respect to your team-mates so when you do have a bad game, don’t be throwing your arms up in the air.
Souness: “I find it disappointing when he gives it that (throwing his arms) when someone does something they shouldn’t have done or they make a mistake, but I’ve worked in that country – I get it. He’s got to get that out of his game playing here in the UK.”
Richards: “Isn’t he frustrated that he believes they should be winning the title? When he’s playing with certain players in the team that aren’t playing at the level he’s playing at – it’s frustrating.”
Keane: “The great players – if he wants to be a great player – the real top players make the other lads around them better. That’s part of his responsibility.”
Richards: “I get that but if you put Fernandes into Man City’s team-”
Keane: “He’s not there (in City’s team).”
Richards: “That’s what I mean, it’s a hard job for him. We all agree on his talent but when you’ve got other players in the team not pulling your weight… we’ve pulled up his stats there – it’s not a one-man team.”
Keane: “You could do Rashford (stats) as well.”
Souness: “He (Fernandes) is their best player, he is the most creative talent. From the boy himself, just take it on the chin. Take the heat and get on with it. You play for Man United, you come for a big transfer fee, the expectation level goes through the roof. That’s his problem.”
Keane: “We’ll watch him today against Man City. That’s it. It’s all about what you do on the pitch, I know players who do interviews and respond to criticism – just get on with it, don’t be such a baby. Focus on the game and produce against a brilliant Man City team. If he does well, we’ll praise him, and if he doesn’t, well he better be.”