Manchester United are now eight competitive games into their first season under manager Erik ten Hag and while it hasn’t been plain sailing, they are on a run of four straight wins in the league and now have their first points on the board in this year’s Europa League campaign.
That being said, starring midfielder and fan favourite Bruno Fernandes has given more of an insight into the Dutchman’s coaching philosophy, alluding to ‘strict’ new rules and a change in atmosphere around the club.
Speaking in an exclusive with The Athletic‘s Adam Crafton, the 28-year-old playmaker revealed that, ‘first of all, he has an idea. He has a style’ and that the players have to stick to his overarching vision if they are looking to get into and stay in his team.
As he goes on to explain: “You have to follow [ten Hag’s] rules. He is strict on that. And I like that. He has brought discipline, which is something I think we missed in the past. Everyone must be on the same page.”
Planning and sticking to principles
The ‘Portuguese Magnifico’, who was United’s player of the year in 2020/21 with an incredible 28 goals and 17 assists in his debut season, drew comparisons between the former Ajax coach’s principles and that of his closest rivals in Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
“That is what Pep and Klopp have been doing for years”, says Fernandes, “because they have stability in the club and in the way they choose the transfer market and build the team, which is really important for them to get the rewards.”
United’s newly minted no. 8 recognised ten Hag’s plans to be pragmatic in the transfer window and purchase with purpose early, citing a press conference where he insisted that he did not want to bring players ‘just for the sake of it’ and that they must fit the blueprints of what he is trying to build.
Not only is the suggestion that the club have been guilty of this in the past – to the tune of more than a billion pounds in the past decade, no less – but Bruno himself believes ‘it is something the club needs’ moving forward.
Addressing on his own dip in performances over the last two seasons, admitting he regularly fluctuates between, bad games, really good games’ and ‘normal games, the ever-creative outlet says there is still plenty of work to be done before the team is all singing from the same hymn sheet.
“We still have a margin to improve and he needs time to get the most out of us with his idea of playing. I believe we will get to the point with him where we are established as a team and everyone is on the same page.”
Even on his off days, Fernandes still plays a vital role in this current Red Devils side and has regularly deputised for Harry Maguire, now sidelined from the squad since the arrival of Lisandro Martínez who has shored up the Man United defence alongside Raphaël Varane.
Fernandes also went on to discuss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the man who brought him to the club, noting that he did ‘great things’ during his tenure and that the players must share some responsibility for his eventual sacking.
He even touched on short-lived interim coach and would-be consultant, Ralf Rangnick, who lasted just six months at Old Trafford before abandoning the project to become Austria’s national team coach.
Once again, Bruno suggested that his turbulent time at United was more because ‘confidence was low’ among the players and, therefore, they couldn’t put his ‘intensity and pressing’ into action, not to mention many of them being Solskjær signings who were brought in with ‘different ideas’ in mind.
The attacking midfielder summarised things by circling back to the somewhat unexpected win over Liverpool, arguing that ‘nobody was betting on Man United, only ourselves’. He believes that the team must now treat the rest of the season with the same mental attitude: being supportive, positive and ‘demanding of each other in a good way’.
Featured Image: Bruno Fernandes (via Instagram)
Mason Greenwood attempted rape and assault charges dropped
All criminal charges against Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood have been dropped today.
The 21-year-old faced allegations of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour, and assault, all against the same female victim.
The investigation was first opened in January 2022 but has today been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service, Greater Manchester Police has said.
Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, GMP’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.
“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.
“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.
“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them.
“An ever increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.
“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.”
GMP also outlined the support that is available:
If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape or sexual assault, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.
You can also report information and crimes on our website (www.gmp.police.uk) using the ‘report’ tool.
Alternatively, you can report information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
There are also lots of organisations and support agencies available across Greater Manchester that can help and provide support for you.
For more information on rape and serious sexual assault and the support services available to you, please visit our support pages.
Here are a few examples of the support centres who can help:
St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre – Manchester provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.
Greater Manchester Rape Crisis – is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 or email [email protected]
Survivors Manchester – provides specialist trauma informed support to male victims in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape, or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
Man United’s Raphael Varane announces retirement from international football age 29
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has announced his sudden retirement from international football at the age of just 29.
Confirming the news of his international retirement in a rather out-of-the-blue social media post that has caught many by surprise, let alone the French fans themselves, the United and World Cup-winning centre-back said he will be calling it day for his country with immediate effect.
While the former Real Madrid man and long-serving France international has suffered from more frequent injury problems in recent years, it was only back in December that he was in his second, consecutive World Cup final and is currently flying high with a resurgent United squad.
However, he has stated that his decision was driven by a desire to focus on his club career and no doubt hope to prolong his career. He issued a lengthy and emotional goodbye to his followers.
Varane writes in the caption: “Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life. Every time I wore this very special blue jersey I felt immense pride. The duty to give it all, play my heart out and win every time we put on the field. I’ve been contemplating this for several months and deciding it’s the right time for me to retire internationally.
“As a child, I remember following France ’98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions. I dreamed of being our heroes and 20 years later I lived one of the best experiences of my life, one that made me really proud. We brought home the Cup!! I will never forget it.
“I still feel every single one of the emotions felt on that day, July 15, 2018. That was one of the most amazing and memorable moments of my life.” He also shared a moving video tracking his international career from his debut back in 2013 to what turned out to be his final appearance in Qatar 2022.
He goes on to write: “This victory that we won all together would never have been possible without the support of Didier Deschamps, every member of the management and staff over the years, and my teammates who have defended our shirt in every game we played.
“But more importantly, this victory would not have been possible without every single one of you supporting us along the way. Your fervour, the celebrations and the memories of our return to France will forever be etched in me…
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you”.
This comes just weeks after countryman and Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris also announced his retirement, though his came as less of a surprise having turned 36 at the end of 2022.
Though many of his compatriots will be gutted to hear of his somewhat premature exit from international football — there are many who play for their country beyond the age of 30 — United fans will no doubt be relieved to hear that his sights are well and truly focused on winning silverware in red for now.
Varane is currently a key player in Erik ten Hag‘s ever-improving United team, who are currently sat in joint-fourth position in the Premier League table and have just made it to the EFL Cup final.
Nevertheless, he is hanging up his boots on the international stage with a World Cup winners medal to his name and having played in one of the best French squads we’ve seen for some time. Sadly, we won’t see him in it for the Euro 2024 next June.
Has Varane’s retirement come too early or is this a smart move on the seasoned professional’s part?