MARTIN KEOWN: Bruno Fernandes is Old Trafford's new Eric Cantona

MARTIN KEOWN: Manchester United’s players are following Bruno Fernandes’ lead… he is unlocking the door for success at Old Trafford in a way that Eric Cantona did

  • Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-2 in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday
  • Bruno Fernandes scored the winner with a fine free-kick in the 78th minute 
  • The midfielder has had a huge impact since joining the club 12 months ago

I remember man-marking Eric Cantona on my England debut in 1992 and battling with him in the Premier League. Cantona unlocked the door for Manchester United’s success in his five seasons at the club. He and Bruno Fernandes are clearly different types of player, but Fernandes is having that Cantona effect.

Team-mates are following his lead. Every time Fernandes gets the ball, he tries to make something happen. That’s his mentality.   

His winner on Sunday will give United great belief. Beating one of your biggest rivals lets you know you are as good as them, if not better. United must now take that belief and use it in the Premier League title race.

Bruno Fernandes celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Liverpool on Sunday

Liverpool are going through a poor patch. Their full backs are still flying forward and in the past that’s worked because they’ve had two sprinters, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, ready to put out any fires at the back. Fabinho or Jordan Henderson in midfield also offered protection. That triangle is a significant part of the way they play. But that’s been severely disrupted.

Now when their high press is beaten, they look exposed. Both goals in the second half were down to inexperience. Rhys Williams, at 19, is going to make mistakes and that’s how Marcus Rashford scored. Fabinho then showed his inexperience by fouling Edinson Cavani for Fernandes’s free-kick.

United capitalised, and this win will give them such confidence.

Fernandes netted the decisive goal with a free-kick from just outside the penalty area 

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