On this day two years ago, Manchester United agreed to a deal with Sporting Lisbon for the transfer of Bruno Fernandes.
Fast forward to today and it looks increasingly unlikely that United will add to their squad in the current transfer window.
Ralf Rangnick now looks set to be tasked with achieving a top-four finish with a weaker squad than the one he first took charge of at the beginning of December, with further loan departures potentially on the cards.
This means that the team will have to pull together, making do with the resources they have and, more importantly, they will need to have the right mentality to make sure they take every opportunity presented to them.
You’d expect Cristiano Ronaldo to be the man the team should look to when looking for a role model with a winning mentality, but perhaps the teammate they should be turning to is Fernandes.
Harry Maguire’s role as captain has come into question of late with a lot of United fans questioning his control of the dressing room.
However, the captain’s armband is just a piece of fabric. If United want to be successful this season they’re going to need leaders all over the pitch.
Fernandes may not boast quite as many winner’s medals as Ronaldo and he doesn’t have a shelf stacked with Ballon d’Or awards, but he’s been the face of this United side for the past two years and has become a major part of the team .
United fell at the final hurdle in the Europa League last season with Fernandes in the team, though they probably wouldn’t have made it all the way to the final were it not for the industry and creativity of Portugal international.
There’s also a growing sense that Fernandes is better positioned to be able to handle his teammates.
Many will likely view the level Ronaldo has reached in his footballing career as utterly unattainable – and, let’s be honest, they’ve got a point – and so striving to be like him can be something of a futile task.
Fernandes can act as the bridge, gradually raising the game of his teammates.
On the pitch, Fernandes is everywhere and his impact off the ball is just as important as his impact on it. When Ronaldo isn’t scoring he doesn’t really offer much to the team, whereas Fernandes is still a crucial part of the side even when he’s not scoring goals.
Ralf Rangnick is trying to implement a style of play that focuses on the team as a whole. It would be better to use Fernandes as his key piece to build around Ronaldo, and in his 4-3-3 system that looks to be happening.
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Fernandes has been controlling the pace of the game and has also been the main source of creativity.
Of course, the window has not yet closed and so we might still be treated to a new arrival this month, but if we aren’t then we need to hope the current crop of players can start to produce the goods and Fernandes will be central to their efforts.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.