‘Emotion is his weapon’ – Man Utd boss Ten Hag insists he’s ‘very pleased’ with Fernandes’ captaincy

Joe Williams
Man Utd midfielder and melt Bruno Fernandes

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag insists he is “very pleased” with Bruno Fernandes’ captaincy amid criticism of the Portugal international.

Fernandes was labelled a “disgrace” by Gary Neville as many former players and pundits reacted negatively to his performance in the Red Devils’ humiliating 7-0 loss to Liverpool last weekend.

He pushed an assistant referee and was criticised for play-acting, diving and waving his arms about in the defeat at Anfield.

The Man Utd midfielder – who is vice-captain to Harry Maguire – starred on Thursday night as Ten Hag’s side beat Real Betis 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash with Fernandes contributing a goal and an assist.

And Ten Hag doesn’t want to take Fernandes’ emotion out of his game despite calls from Paul Scholes and others to give someone else a go as Man Utd captain.

Ten Hag told reporters: “I think he showed big personality by giving this performance on Thursday, leading the team, so it was brilliant.

“I think he has so much skills and now scoring with his head from a corner.

“He scores with his right, with his left, with his head, he is creating with final passes. Of course he is very happy when he scores a goal because that’s important.

“Then you can celebrate and he did together with his fans.”

“I said I am very pleased with his captaincy because he has given the team energy.

“He is not only giving the physical output, the best of the whole team, but also he is running in the right direction and he is pointing players in that direction.

“He is coaching players, he is leading the team in the tactical perspective.

“His emotion is his weapon but sometimes it’s too strong and, yes, of course I help him, I support him and I give him feedback. Sometimes he has to show more to control emotions.

“He has to find the balance when to use the right show as a tool and when to use emotion as a tool. That is the next step. It is a nice development point for him and when he does it, he will be an even better player.”

Wout Weghorst reacted emotionally to getting his first goal at Old Trafford for Man Utd as he bagged the Red Devils’ fourth against Betis on Thursday.

On Weghorst, Ten Hag added: “I think as you see he is often in the right position, then he fails but he keeps going.

“So, he showed great personality and character, not only in this game.“He could have early on his goal but he keeps focused, keeps working, keeps putting himself in the right positions and finally he got his goal and his reward.”

“He is physically capable to play a lot of games. He is a very fit player and he recovers very good.

“I expect that he would play a lot but obviously we have an injury with Anthony Martial, so that’s obvious that’s the main reason he’s playing every game from start to almost finish.

“Barcelona I think I took him off but many other games he played.

“I think he is doing well. If a striker or as a number 10 in the midfield, he is also bringing good performances.

“I think he has intelligence from positions. He is a very good anticipator.

“I tell him of course to link up there, which he is also doing as a high striker, linking up and getting in front of the goal when crosses are coming in and also the defending part he is very good in it.”

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