Bruno Fernandes has maintained during his time at Manchester United that he is capable of playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that his performances have suggested otherwise.
On Monday night, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was ecstatic after he scored a goal for his team with a header that went into the back of the net against Uruguay. Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes celebrated in unison after Ronaldo had the misapprehension that he had scored his second goal of the World Cup.
The initial play of the goal made it appear as though Fernandes had provided Ronaldo with an assist; however, replays of the goal revealed that the midfielder had actually scored the goal. In spite of the fact that Ronaldo was initially given credit for the goal, FIFA later awarded the opening goal to Fernandes, and that fact will be remembered on official records. This came as a source of great consternation for the five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or award.
The goal scored by Fernandes was his first of the World Cup, and he went on to score another one in the dying minutes of the game after Portugal were awarded a questionable penalty. Ronaldo was taken out of the game by a replacement player just before Uruguay gave up that penalty, but he would have taken it if he had been on the field. At the end of the World Cup, he would have gone to bed convinced that he had been cheated out of two goals.
In an interview this month with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo stated that "he does not chase records, the records chase him." However, at the moment, it is Lionel Messi who is chasing him, not records. Ronaldo is likely aware of this fact, given that this will be his final World Cup appearance.
The fact that Messi and Ronaldo each have eight goals to their names in the World Cup, and Ronaldo wants to end his career with more, would have made Fernandes' brace on Monday night feel like a wasted opportunity and an injustice to the center-forward. Messi and Ronaldo both have eight goals to their names in the World Cup.
"The impression I got was that Cristiano had some contact with the ball. "I was trying to get the ball to him," Fernandes told the reporters after the game in a diplomatic tone. What matters is that we were able to advance to the next round despite facing a very challenging opponent.
However, Ronaldo's close friend Edu Aguirre had suggested that the Portuguese Federation would present evidence to FIFA to prove that Portugal's goal was actually his. The replays suggest that if Ronaldo did get a touch, it was his hair greasing the ball, but Ronaldo's close friend Edu Aguirre had suggested that the Portuguese Federation would do this.
If what has been alleged is true, then it reveals Ronaldo's true motivations, which are entirely self-serving. It is clear that Ronaldo places a higher priority on himself than the team that is surrounding him, and the fact that he is trying to prevent Fernandes, with whom he has spent a significant amount of time, from scoring a goal only makes the situation worse.
The dispute between FIFA and adidas has thankfully been resolved, and it has been established that Fernandes was the one who scored.
A week ago, Fernandes said that it was a "dream come true" to play with Ronaldo at Old Trafford. However, it's possible that the 28-year-old is actually privately relieved that Ronaldo has left the club. Fernandes has played with Ronaldo for Portugal ever since Ronaldo made his international debut.
He has consistently stated that playing alongside Ronaldo has not had a negative impact on his performances, despite the fact that the evidence points in the opposite direction. After Ronaldo re-signed with the team, Fernandes' contribution in the final third declined, and the numbers back up this observation.
In the 83 games that Fernandes played while Ronaldo was not at the club, he contributed 43 goals and 25 assists. However, in the 63 games that Fernandes has played since Ronaldo made his return against Newcastle in 2017, he has contributed 10 goals and 17 assists. Ronaldo is a five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or award.
In response to a question from The Athletic in September regarding whether or not Fernandes is capable of playing alongside Ronaldo, he stated that "the majority of my assists from the previous season were for him, so I don't think [it is fair]." To put it simply, I did not have a very good season in terms of my own numbers. I don't believe it has anything to do with Cristiano.
"I play with him on the national team, and whenever I score, he is out there on the field." To play with Cristiano as a No. 10 is actually really beneficial because players respect him to such an extent that it creates more space because the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring.
In spite of what Fernandes has stated, the evidence cannot be disputed. The playmaker has not been as effective with Ronaldo at the club; however, he seems to grow in stature in his absence, just like he did when he gathered the ball to take the penalty against Uruguay. This is because Ronaldo's presence has a negative impact on the playmaker's ability to create opportunities for his teammates.
It has been suggested by fans that Fernandes wants to be the most important player, which he is not when Ronaldo plays. However, the argument that players are forced to compromise when the 37-year-old is leading the attack has more merit and should be considered.
It seemed like United's players were prone to make poor decisions during the previous season, possibly because they were overawed by Ronaldo, someone who they might have admired as they were growing up, and he was demanding the ball when there were better options around him. This could have led to United's poor performance.
It is going to be interesting to see whether Fernandes improves in the final third following Ronaldo's departure. For example, Fernandes might have previously switched the ball wide or created an opportunity for himself rather than passing the ball centrally to Ronaldo. It is also going to be interesting to see whether he improves after the departure of Ronaldo.
At this point in the World Cup, Fernandes appears to be playing some of the best football of his career. Erik ten Hag would appreciate it if he could return to that form because he has been outstanding for Portugal, effortlessly orchestrating their midfield in both matches, and it has been shown that he has done this.
When the Premier League resumes play, the truth about whether or not Ronaldo was impeding Fernandes' performance ought to also be established.
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