‘Fernandes doesn’t accept low standards’ – Red Devils no longer look vulnerable, says Meulensteen

Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant says the arrival of a Portuguese playmaker in the winter transfer window has helped to raise collective standards

Bruno Fernandes has helped to raise collective standards at Manchester United because he does not accept low ones, says Rene Meulensteen, with the Red Devils having shaken off an air of “vulnerability” now that they have a Portuguese playmaker on board.

Big things were expected of a January signing when he completed a protracted €55 million (£47m/$60m) move in the winter transfer window.

He has, however, exceeded expectations with the speed in which he has adjusted to the demands of life in English football.

Fernandes has quickly become a talismanic presence for the Red Devils, with an upturn in fortunes for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side having accompanied his arrival at Old Trafford.

Ex-United coach Meulensteen believes a fresh face is raising the bar for those around him, with talented team-mates being dragged along by a colleague who demands 100 per cent every time he takes to the field.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant told talkSPORT: “Fernandes has made a fantastic impact.

“At the moment what’s happening on the pitch is working, and he’s made the difference.

“There was always this vulnerability about the Man United team, but now there’s much more bite and belief about them, and I think Bruno Fernandes has played a key role in that.

“You know what I like about him? He doesn’t accept low standards.

“There was a moment [in a 2-0 derby win over City] when Daniel James broke on the right-hand side and he should have played Fernandes in, he should have pulled it back and it would have been 2-0 – game over.

“And his reaction to those moments where players play a ball and it doesn’t come off, he’s not happy with that.

“That’s exactly what should happen; you should always aim for the highest standards and not accept sloppiness, and that is one of the things he has got.

“On top of that he also always looks to play forward, and he’s got that little bit of unpredictability that you saw in the free-kick that [Anthony] Martial scored from.

“That element of the game was lacking at Man United and, now they have it back, it makes all the difference.”

Fernandes has helped to fire the Red Devils back into contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League, while major silverware remains up for grabs in FA Cup and Europa League competition.