Bruno Fernandes text message silences brutal Roy Keane criticism

Roy Keane singled out Bruno Fernandes for criticism following Manchester United's Carabao Cup semi-final defeat by rivals Manchester City.

The former Red Devils captain played down the notion that Fernandes can be compared to someone like Eric Cantona, as he questioned whether the Portuguese can really be considered a leader at United if he doesn't possess a winner's instinct.

Keane said on Sky Sports: "You know Fernandes has had great praise and over the past few months people have been comparing him to Cantona etc.

"But Cantona – Fernandes didn't really do much tonight. The top players turn up in the big occasions. That's what the Cantonas used to do, get their hands on trophies. And that's where this team is a little bit short.

"They probably need to have one or two more players come into the squad no doubt and the mentality, maybe they need the confidence of winning a semi-final to get them over the line. Then you get momentum."

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quick to play things down, pointing out that everyone, not just Fernandes, could have done more against the Citizens.

"It's not just about Bruno not finding inspiration," Solskjaer said. "It's about the whole team creating chances and when you play against good teams – Man City played well tonight – you have to be spot on and you have to earn the right to create chances.

"We had some moments in the first-half on the break, second-half it was more about pressure but we didn't create big chances. Anthony had a couple of half-decent ones but we just didn't have enough in the last pass or last finish.

"I felt first-half we defended really well, they posed us some problems but we kept them away from our goal quite well. They had one shot that hit the post, we had one shot with the save from the keeper from Bruno.

"After they scored, I felt we had more of the ball, more of the pressure but still couldn't create enough. Possession counts for nothing but first-half they had a lot more possession of the ball than we had.

"We looked dangerous on the counter-attack but Marcus was offside or the ball came a little bit late a couple of times."

But does Keane have a point? Is Fernandes truly a Manchester United leader or is he merely a talented player who turns up as and when he feels like it?

To be a true leader you have to do more than simply command your team on the pitch.

Those with the makeup to be a captain are domineering characters in the dressing room, and someone their team-mates can rely on for problems outside of football.

Fernandes hasn't been at Manchester United long, but he has certainly demonstrated he is a leader in this department since last January.

Fernandes was first credited for giving Aaron-Wan Bissaka some tips behind the scenes at Old Trafford, in a bid to help the defender improve his game.

He later commented on an Instagram picture of Scott McTominay, reminding the young Scottish midfielder to work on his ball skills and not just his body.

Fred also revealed how his United team-mate gave him tips on how to emulate Paul Scholes before the Red Devil's 5-0 win over Club Brugge in the Europa League last season.

The pep talk boosted Fred's confidence, and he went on to bag a brace.

Fred told Esporte Interativo: "Before the game we were at the hotel there for lunch, just before the game. And the TV here likes to show old games.

"And they were showing only Scholes' goals. And I was like, 'Man, this guy gets in the box so much. He's a midfielder and is always in the box, he always scores with his head, all the time'.

"And then Bruno said 'See? You have to do that. Enter the box and you'll score'. Then I went and scored two goals in that game. That's why Bruno celebrated a lot, he was on the bench. I watched his videos and said 'Man, what a great player'."

But leaders aren't just responsible for guiding their domestic teams.

Any player worth his salt knows that a successful international career is just as important as a successful career in domestic football, which is why Fernandes' text message to fellow countrymen Ricardo Pereira speaks volumes.

By definition, Pereira, who plays for Leicester City, is a rival over the course of the season.

But that didn't stop Fernandes from contacting his international team-mate during the first lockdown in the UK to make sure he was well.

Pereira told Portuguese newspaper Record: "We were just talking a few weeks ago. He text me because of my injury and everything. We spoke again, in the meantime.

"During the quarantine he was cycling and I said that when he passes here in my area, to let me know that I am going after him. On one foot, but I will!

"I have no doubt that he will win the armband in a while. At Sporting he was already a captain and has a very strong personality, on and off the field.

"He already leads without being a captain. So, in a few years, Bruno Fernandes may even be a team captain."

On the impact the Manchester United midfielder has had since his arrival, Pereira added: "Well. I was sure that Bruno would be very successful in the Premier League, but this way… I admit that I wasn't.

"It's impressive. We all know that Bruno Fernandes has an enormous quality, something he had already shown at Sporting and the national team.

"But it isn't easy to get on the middle of a train, especially if that train is in a league like the Premier League and in a club like Manchester United.

"Normally, a player who arrives at the Premier League takes, on average, a season to adapt. Bruno Fernandes completed this whole process in just one week!

"And I'm not just talking about how he, individually, showed himself: for me, the difference is in the way the entire Man United team has improved with his arrival.

"He was the catalyst for this new Man United. I'm happy for him and I hope the good moment continues, except against Leicester. It doesn't have to be all games, does it?"

Keane knows what it takes to be a captain, given he was one of United's most successful skipper's during his time playing under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

But he may be off the mark with his evaluation of Fernandes.

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