Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has revealed that he used to excel as a central defender, a position that a former coach urged him to stick to.
The Portuguese has become arguably the first name on United‘s team sheet since his move to Old Trafford.
His role as an attacking midfielder has seen him contribute to 31 goals in 33 games since his January arrival. Indeed, he has scored 18 of those himself, setting up the rest.
But the 26-year-old has revealed how he used to be a solid option at the back in his younger days. Speaking to the UTD podcast, he shared a former coach’s advice on becoming a “top player” in defence.
“I played central defender for the most part when I started playing football, either central defence or right-back,” Fernandes said.
“I was really good, I had a coach who said to me, ‘If you want to be a top player, you will need to play as a central defender. If you want to be a good player, you will be a midfielder’.
“I think he was wrong but, maybe as a central defender, I could be much better, I don’t know!
“At the time I didn’t like to play there, but everyone was saying I was a good defender, they said I was smart, that I covered the sides.”
Fernandes made his name at Sporting, from where he made the move to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s ranks.
The midfielder added that playing further up the field helped him to realise that playing in the middle of the park was his best option.
“The coach looked at the list of players, and because some were on vacation he said, ‘Oh we have no strikers’ and I said ‘I’m a striker!’
“He said, ‘I thought you were a central defender’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t play there anymore, I’m a striker!’
“So he gave me one try-out in training, I scored twice and he said ‘OK, you can play a striker!’ He played me as striker in one game, then, in the second game, I was like a fake nine. After that I moved back to number 10 and number eight.”
Subscribe to TEAMtalk’s daily newsletter…
Sancho addresses Man Utd links
Meanwhile, Jadon Sancho has insisted that transfer links with United have not accounted for his dip in form.
The winger scored for England in Thursday’s friendly but, prior that, his Borussia Dortmund form had levelled off.
Speaking after the 3-0 win over Ireland, though, Sancho said his only focus was on getting back to his best.