Mission complete! Bruno Fernandes fires Manchester United back into the Champions League
Rumours were circulating suggesting that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be sacked, with claims the Norwegian was out of his depth and would be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino.
In reality, hispositionwas never trulyunder threat, with the board and the owners instead backing their man as he oversees arebuild at Old Trafford.
An illustrationof that came with the initial£47 million ($60m) they agreed to spend to bring BrunoFernandes to the club from Sporting C.P. in January.
Fernandes has provedto be themiracle they were searching for. When the 5'10" magician from Portugal arrived in Manchester, Unitedsat 14 points behind Sunday’s opponents Leicester. They finished the season four points and two places above the Foxes, with Champions League football secured for next term.
It was fitting that, despite one of his poorer performances in a United shirt,Fernandes was the playerto scorethe crucial goal at the King Power Stadium to cement a top-four finish for Solskjaer’s side.
His 71st-minute spot-kick - a record 14th in the league for United this season, that came afterAnthony Martial was brought down in the box by Jonny Evans and Wes Morgan - was his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign.
Since his debut in February, no player has been involved in more goals in the Premier League. Hehas seven assists to go with his goals, whilehis contribution extends far further than the successful strikeshe has contributed towards.
United's players talk about how he has lifted them in the dressing room; since his arrival they have been unbeaten in the league.
At Leicester, Solskjaer arrived wearing his club suit.It was nota Wembley final, but the Norwegian knew there was more resting on the game than a trophy.
The crunch clash was worth £100m off the pitch, with both sides stillable to finish in those lucrative Champions League spots.
More than that for United, finishing in the top-four would help prove that they are heading in the right direction and that Solskjaer’s rebuild can potentially push themback to the top of the game both in England and Europe.
United played the first half like a side who knew how much were riding on the result. They struggled to get a footing in the game, with Brendan Rodgers’ side dominating and causing them problems on the counter-attack.
Early opportunities fell to Wilfried Ndidi and Marc Albrighton whileUnited’s formidable front line of Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwooddid nothing to test Kasper Schmeichel.
Solskjaer's nerves were audible as he screamed at Fernandes for complaining to the linesman over a challenge instead of getting back in position to halt a Leicester attack, but he got the improvement he wanted after the break.
Martial’s movement had started to cause the home side problems, and it was his darting run which saw United awarded the penalty to put them ahead.
Knowing that Wolves were doing them no favours against Chelsea, Leicester were forced to go on the attack and bid to win the game themselves. The injured James Maddisonscreamed in exasperation from the stands as his side went close, but they could not muster anything in response.
Instead United were able to turn to anunlikely hero off the benchto wrap things up as Jesse Lingard, on forGreenwood, capitalised on a Schmeichel error for his first league goal since December 2018.
Source : goal.com
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