Bruno Fernandes an ‘inspiration’ to Man Utd
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says captain Bruno Fernandes is an “inspiration to the team” after his attitude was criticised in the 7-0 Premier League defeat by Liverpool.
A visibly frustrated Fernandes appeared to push the referee’s assistant in the 81st minute at Anfield.
Ten Hag said Portugal midfielder Fernandes will remain captain despite calls for him to lose the armband.
“He is playing a brilliant season,” said Ten Hag.
“He has played a big role in us being where we are. Everyone makes mistakes and we learn. I have to learn and he will as well.
“He is intelligent. I’m really pleased he is our player and he is captain when Harry (Maguire) is not playing.”
Former United captain Gary Neville said Fernandes’ behaviour was “embarrassing” and ex-Blackburn striker Chris Sutton said United had “people far better qualified to be captain”.
The defeat was United’s joint-heaviest in a competitive game, while victory was Liverpool’s biggest against their rivals.
United conceded six goals in the second half and Ten Hag said after the match that his side were “unprofessional” and “lost our heads”.
Former England defender Neville questioned Fernandes gesturing to the bench when Marcus Rashford was substituted in the 85th minute.
But BBC Sport understands Fernandes was seeking clarification on his position after Anthony Elanga replaced Rashford.
Striker Rashford said Fernandes has been a “good leader”.
“I love playing with Bruno,” he said. “I don’t have anything negative to say.
“Nobody is perfect. Sometimes you want to win so bad you end up doing things a little out of character. But I 100% support Bruno and am behind him.
“As a team we have to support him because he’s a fantastic player. We wouldn’t be in the position we are in if he wasn’t playing games for us.”
United are third in the Premier League – 14 points behind leaders Arsenal – and claimed their first trophy in six years by winning the Carabao Cup last month.
‘We didn’t give up – that’s nonsense’
Former United captain Roy Keane said senior players went “missing” when the “going got tough” against Liverpool and that he would have been “ashamed of their performance”.
But Rashford said suggestions that United gave up are “nonsense”.
“We were unorganised – yes. Communication was bad – yes. That’s why we conceded the goals,” he said.
“It comes down to the fact that I believe everyone was trying to get back into the game that much we came away from the team’s principles, in and out of possession.”
Ten Hag said United must “reset and bounce back” against Real Betis in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie at Old Trafford on Thursday.
“We made a mess on Sunday but we are in the same boat,” he said. “We win together and lose together.”