Ole Gunnar Solksjaer spent his summer trying to overhaul an underperforming United side.
There were cracks defensively, in the midfield department and literally all over the Red Devils lineup.
The Norweigan boss managed to do justice to his defensive issues, bringing in Aaron Wan Bisakka and Harry Maguire to help improve that aspect.
On the front note though, United didn’t have as many good fortunes. Excluding the signing of pacy winger Daniel James from Swansea, the Red Devils saw little or no transfer incomings from an attacking view.
A number of Europe’s top names rejected United’s advances with the likes of Paulo Dybala, Christian Eriksen and Fernando Llorente being the top shots in that regard.
However, two of United’s targets that would have capped off a perfect transfer window for the club was Juventus’ Bruno Fernandez and Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandez.
Mandzukic and Fernandes were among the players linked to Manchester United over the last transfer window but could not join the club, as transfer negotiations went sour. With reports suggesting both players were not “excited” to join the Red Devils.
Bruno Fernandes has played 50 games across all competitions for Sporting CP this season…
…he's been directly involved in 48 goals…
…from midfield. ? pic.twitter.com/nUr4Fkc2j8
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2019
The midfielder is well known for his high intensity levels and a good command of creative splitting passes. His work rate and technical brilliance would have indeed been an upgrade to the current midfield options United have.
Put into context, a Bruno Fernandez would easily have been United’s player of the season had he replicated his last season’s accomplishments(with Sporting) with the English club.
His 31 goals and 17 assists would mean he had more than double the goals United’s highest performer had. Paul Pogba was the candidate and could only manage 13 goals and a much lesser 10 assists.
The narrative gets better when you realize the Frenchman had 530 more minutes of football than the Sporting Lisbon man had. That tells a whole lot.
And if you think the 24-year-old flop is a one season fluke, here’s a good stat to go by.
Today, Bruno Fernandes had more assists (3) in 90 minutes than Jesse Lingard has had in his last 37 games. pic.twitter.com/3MgFdC7CSq
— UtdArena. (@utdarena) August 25, 2019
In just the second game of the current season, Fernades already has a tally of three assists to his name, which means in the space of 180 minutes he had more contributions to goals than Lingard could manage in his last 37 appearances (zero). That’s about eight months of football with literally no output on an attacking end. Shocking.
Fernandes is the exact playmaker that Solksjaer should be going all out so secure. He is ten times the player Jesse Lingard (a regular starter for United) is and at 24, he’s much younger as well and would be a bargain buy regardless of the price.
Simply put, if a player with no goal contributions is good enough to start for United, how much of a massive upgrade will one with 48 better contributions be? We all know the answer to that.
Moving forward, Juventus striker, Mario Mandzukic who was also tipped to join United over the course of the summer saw his move breakdown in similar fashion to Fernandes as well.
The failure to sign the Croatian would perhaps be Solksjaer’s biggest disappointment of the summer as the club saw a major striking deficit with the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
The 33-year-old striker would have no doubt brought a lot of experience to a United side currently brewing with young lads. His guidance will have gone a long way for the new forwards like Daniel James and Mason Greenwood.
Also, at 33, he would have been a cheap short term replacement for Romelu Lukaku till the club can find a much younger heir to the centre forward role. Over the years, United’s game play has hinged on having a good centre forward and the lack of one can be costly to their chances this season.
United might have brought in some great defensive acquisitions but there’s still a major lack of firepower upfront. The likes of Martial and Rashford are only makeshift strikers and it remains to be seen if they can perform on a consistent level upfront.
In the midfield department, the Red Devils look toothless and even their best performer, Paul Pogba – his future at the club is still in a cloud of mystery.
It remains to be seen whether Solksjaer might be forced to make some activity during the January transfer window, but regardless of whatever happens, United must make these players their top priorities next summer.