Manchester United Bruno Fernandes has denied claims that playing with Cristiano Ronaldo contributed to his decline in performance during the previous season.
Ronaldo, who returned to Old Trafford from Juventus last summer, scored his first goal of the year in United’s 2-0 victory over FC Sheriff in the Europa League last week.
The 37-year-old scored an amazing 24 goals across all competitions last season, despite the Reds’ overall difficulties.
In contrast, Fernandes scored a meagre ten goals as opposed to the 28 he scored in the 2020–21 season. Some said that his decline in performance was brought on by partnering with Ronaldo.
This season, the duo have started a Premier League game together just once, with Ronaldo being forced to play a patient game by manager Erik ten Hag.
Fernandes has looked sharper and has been more involved in recent weeks, but he does not believe that is as a result of Ronaldo not playing regularly.
“Most of my assists last season were for him, so I don’t think [that it’s fair],” Fernandes told The Athletic. “I just had a poor season in terms of my own numbers. I don’t think it is about Cristiano or myself.
“Before he came, I was also taking the penalties, but I had two chances to take the penalties last season and I missed both. So I cannot blame Cristiano for taking penalties, especially when he scores them.
“When I missed against Arsenal in April, it was him who gave me the ball and said, ‘Go yourself and score’. I missed but I felt that he trusted me to be the one to step up and score in the big moment.
So I don’t think it is because of Cristiano, it is because I didn’t do the best in myself in some moments to get goals or assists.N”In the national team, I play with him and when I score, he is on the pitch.
To play with Cristiano as a No.10 is actually really good because players respect Cristiano so much that it creates more space, as the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring.
“They want to mark him and [the opposition] create an overload where he is to mark him.
For instance, one of the goals I scored against North Macedonia [in March] came from his assist, and the other came from his run, which opened up space for me to score behind him.
“I started none of my past four Premier League games, and I only managed one goal. So, Cristiano is not to blame.
“Timing and momentum are important. Sometimes things turn out poorly, and other times they do better.
He can obviously be a great teammate because he provides assists and will score goals if you give him the appropriate pass.