Man Utd star Fernandes ‘prefers’ Ronaldo to be benched vs Arsenal

Cristiano Ronaldo still needed at Manchester United, insists Erik ten Hag

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes may “prefer” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to remain on the bench in future games, starting with Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford on Sunday, according to Gabby Agbonlahor. The Portuguese striker has had to watch on from the touchline in each of the Red Devils’ last three matches, as Erik ten Hag’s side won each of the games.

Marcus Rashford has led the line in Ronaldo’s absence, and Fernandes could prefer playing with a more mobile forward line says former Aston Villa striker Agbonlahor. “It’s not a coincidence that Fernandes is playing better with Ronaldo not on the pitch,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider.

“For Fernandes, when he is on with Ronaldo, maybe he feels like there is a bigger player than him in that team. He plays better when he knows he is the best player in the team, his performances have shown that.

“He would probably prefer Ronaldo to not be starting. What I have spotted about Fernandes is that he isn’t throwing his arms up in the air. He is looking like a leader. No complaining about your teammates, be a leader on the pitch.”

Ronaldo has further competition to get back into the United starting lineup as new £85million signing Antony is available to face Arsenal. Anthony Elanga and Jadon Sancho have started each of the last three games as Ten Hag now has strong competition for places in the forward positions. The Dutch boss hailed the strength of his squad after the 1-0 win over Leicester.

“As we said that, it’s really early in the season and we have a squad,” Ten Hag said hours before the transfer deadline closed on Thursday. “We have more than 11 starting players, that is what you see now, players now on the bench can play in one, two or three weeks.”

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During the summer Fernandes quashed rumours that he dislikes playing alongside Ronaldo, despite the playmaker’s form taking a hit after his Portugal team-mate joined the club a year ago. “As I have always said, I am there to serve my strikers,” Fernandes told Sky Sports in July.

“I think we had an amazing start to the season when Cristiano came in. After that, I scored many goals playing with Cristiano. I think all of my goals came alongside Cristiano. That was not the problem at all.

“I’ve been playing with him for the international team, we qualified for the Euros with an assist from him to me, so [Ronaldo] will never be the problem. Good players like this can fit together at any time. I’m here to make my strikers happy, to make them enjoy the game. That is the job of the midfield and if they score goals and get their numbers, then I will be happy for them because the team will get better results.”

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