Bruno Fernandes sparks debate after ‘soft’ penalty helps Man United into FA Cup fourth round

He very much knew what he was doing, let's put it that way.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 9th January 2024

Bruno Fernandes’ on-field antics have once again sparked debate amongst football fans and pundits alike, this time over what was undoubtedly a very ‘soft’ penalty against Wigan Athletic which helped Manchester United into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Man United won 2-0 against the local side at the DW Stadium on Monday night, thanks to a lovely curled finish into the bottom corner from Diogo Dalot and the controversial spot kick, but it’s fair to say they were wasteful on the night and should have grabbed more.

With multiple missed chances from Rasmus Højlund before the penalty, the longer the game stayed at 1-0, the more it looked like they were pushing their luck and that Wigan might go up the other end and equalise — which made the tide-turning penalty even more frustrating for the home fans.

Going under very visible contact, albeit rather light and minimal, Fernandes‘ penalty has left many arguing both sides: was it a clear penalty under the laws of the game or a pantomime dive from a crafty creative midfielder? We’ll let you decide:

Let’s just say he isn’t a stranger to a bit of theatrics.

As you can see, the consensus in the ITV studio after the game from former United man Roy Keane, Arsenal legend Ian Wright and even ex-Wigan coach Roberto Martinez was that although awarding a penalty was technically the correct decision, it was “clever”, to say the least.


The fact that it was widely publicised that there was no VAR on the night arguably makes Bruno’s behaviour on the pitch even more shrewd, as he will no doubt have taken that into account before the game and in the moment he decided to go down, no matter how little contact he received.

You won’t find many football fans, Red or otherwise, vehemently defending it as an ‘obvious’ pen and we’re sure most reasonable supporters would have understood had it ultimately been overturned — but the fact is, under the current state of refereeing, you can only really depend on the very letter of the law.


Nevertheless, it hasn’t stopped people from criticising the Portuguese player for diving (something he’s fairly used to these days) and claiming he dived.

Where do you land on the Bruno Fernandes penalty debate?

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Fellow pundit Danny Murphy said, “By giving those penalties, we are encouraging players to dive with any, any contact. There was not enough contact to send him over”, adding, “It is an exaggerated fall, it is an awful decision”.

Latcis and League One followers, in general, made their feelings known on social media, with one account posting: “Feel sorry for Wigan Athletic after Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes had to cheat to get a penalty against the League One side. On the other hand, what a shift the Tics players did last night. The whole team should be proud”.


What did you make of it — a clever bit of play-acting from a pro doing whatever he needs to do to help his team win, or a dive that only further adds to the problematic culture of simulation?

You can the highlights from Wigan Athletic vs Man United down below:

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Featured Image — ITV Sport