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In Focus: Fernandes petulance poses Man Utd captaincy question
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Danny Ryan
Bruno Fernandes looked demoralised after Manchester United's derby defeat on Sunday
Bruno Fernandes looked demoralised after Manchester United's derby defeat on Sunday

Bruno Fernandes has come under fire following his lacklustre showing in Manchester United's 3-0 home defeat to Manchester City.

The Portugal international completed only 25 passes at Old Trafford and was booked late on for losing his cool in the derby encounter, leaving him one booking away from a suspension.

After the derby, Sky Sports pundits Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher agreed that Fernandes should be stripped of the United captaincy, which was handed to him on a permanent basis in the summer.

Ahead of the Red Devils' meeting with Newcastle in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, we take a look at United's leadership issue.

Not captain material

Keane in particular did not hold back with his assessment of Fernandes' captaincy credentials after the one-sided Manchester derby.

The ex-United skipper said: "I would take the captaincy off him, 100%. You have to start somewhere. You're talking about making changes at board level, at manager level, I would start with that, because the manager is capable of doing that.

"And hold his hands up and say 'listen, I got it wrong'. Fernandes is a brilliant footballer but in terms of captain material, he is the opposite to what I would want in a captain."

Fernandes has still displayed his brilliance during United's tough start to the campaign, creating the third-most chances (29) and completing the second-highest number of final third passes (197) in the Premier League.

But while the numbers are impressive, the ex-Sporting midfielder's hot-headed nature towards his own team-mates and officials means he struggles to lead by example — and becomes a liability when the going gets tough.

After United's 7-0 defeat at Liverpool last season, Gary Neville claimed the result was epitomised by Fernandes' "embarrassing" display.

Bruno Fernandes is one of Manchester United's key attacking weapons
Bruno Fernandes is one of Manchester United's key attacking weapons

Leadership race

With problems mounting at United, Erik ten Hag is unlikely to go back on his decision to strip Harry Maguire of the armband and hand it to Fernandes.

However, the Dutch boss would not be short of options should he wish to make a bold call and nominate a new leader.

Casemiro and Victor Lindelof are captains of Brazil and Sweden, while Raphael Varane is a player who has led by example both for France and Real Madrid.

And Lisandro Martinez — who is currently absent through injury — is another potential candidate after his solid debut season at Old Trafford.

Danny Murphy said of United's captaincy debate in August: "The one obvious candidate is Martinez.

"He looks like a real leader. If I had the choice at the start of the season as United manager, I'd have gone with Martinez."

Over to you, Bruno

If United are to turn their season around, Fernandes in particular will have to be at the peak of his powers. 

With Marcus Rashford struggling for form and Mason Mount unable to nail down a regular spot in the XI, the onus is on the Portuguese to score and assist goals.

But if he is to silence his doubters, Fernandes needs to pair his obvious talent and impressive output with discipline and composure befitting of a captain.

Otherwise, Ten Hag may be forced to act as the pressure on him increases.


Manchester UnitedBruno FernandesPremier League
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