I see criticism as positive – Man United captain Fernandes

Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes has said he accepts criticism of his play as a “positive” and conceded the team has not lived up to expectations this season.

United are sixth in the Premier League, nine points adrift of fourth-place Tottenham, who occupy what could be the last Champions League qualifying spot, depending on the Premier League’s ranking in UEFA’s coefficient race.

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Asked by Portuguese outlet Abola why he is often blamed when United doesn’t play well, Fernandes said: “I’m the Manchester United captain but also because of the standard I’ve created since arriving here.

“This is exclusively my fault on the positive side because I did good things, I am capable of doing better and they criticise me for that. I see this on the positive side. If they are criticising me it is because they think I am capable of doing better.

“It’s true that there are times when people criticise the attitude, and that things weren’t rushed and that things weren’t done, but when those things happen I’m completely calm.

“This has been more on my shoulders since Cris [Cristiano Ronaldo] left [in November 2022] here, which is normal, his name attracted more attention than mine.

“The [criticisms] probably fall more on foreign players than on home players.”

Since joining United from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, Fernandes, 29, has won just one club trophy, the Carabao Cup last season.

Fernandes, 29, added he is ambitious and understands the fans’ frustrations.

“I’ve always told the club that I don’t want them to promise me that we’re going to be champions, because, for any club I go to, I don’t expect them to promise me something that they can’t fulfill at the outset,” the Portugal international said.

“What I have always asked and want from the club is for us to be competitive.

“This year, we weren’t and we don’t have to hide it. The season has been below our expectations, below what my expectations are, at least. And I believe that for the club too, because it is not used to being in these positions.

“I want to be competitive, I want to compete, I want to win.”

Fernandes has already told the club that he wants to stay at United, where he is under contract until June 2026.

“I’ve already had a meeting with the new owners,” Fernandes said.

“They want to meet with the players and have already done so individually, and that was exactly the message I sent. I want to stay here, I want to be part of a project that has feet, legs, torso and head, everything that is needed so that we can compete with Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, which are the clubs that have been in the best shape.

“City and Liverpool especially, and Arsenal, which in the last two or three years has also been growing. After last year, when I think we had a good season for the expectations that existed and for my expectations.

“I was aware that [this season] we weren’t going to be at the same level as Liverpool and City, I was aware of that, but I was also aware that we could compete or be closer, and we were closer to competing with them [last season], we reached two finals, we won one [Carabao Cup], we lost another [FA Cup], we reached the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

“But from last season to this one there wasn’t that continuity which would make us even more competitive, a team more in line to be in the top places.”

Fernandes is not bothered by the expectations that come by playing at United.

“Honestly, I don’t see it as pressure,” he said.

“I simply do what I like. I have a clear conscience that every day I train my hardest, play my hardest. You can obviously point out to me that I played well or poorly, showed a lot or little quality, that I missed passes, missed shots, but when it comes to everything else I always have a clear conscience.”