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Erik ten Hag responds to Bruno Fernandes criticism and insists Man Utd star is playing ‘massive role’ | Football

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Goals for Fernandes have dried up this season (Picture: Getty)

Erik ten Hag has leapt to the defence of Bruno Fernandes, insisting the Manchester United star is having a ‘really good season’ despite his poor goal return.

Following his arrival from Sporting CP in January 2020, Fernandes quickly established himself as one of United’s most potent goal threats, scoring eight times in his first 14 appearances for the club.

His first full campaign saw him score 28 and provide 17 assists as he won United’s Player of the Season award for the 2020-21 campaign with that tally dropping to 10 last season.

The Portugal international has just one goal to his name this term in his 13 appearances with that drop off highlighted by United’s need for a reliable goal scorer this term.

Marcus Rashford is their top scorer this term so far with five but ten Hag insists he is not concerned by United’s poor goal return – with Bournemouth the only side in the top 10 to have scored fewer.

While he is looking for more players to contribute, ten Hag is happy with Fernandes’ ‘massive role’ in the side.

‘I think Bruno is playing really good this season, so I can see in that fact, he can produce more goals, assists,’ ten Hag told a press conference on Tuesday.

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes

Fernandes has one goal in 13 appearances this season (Picture: Getty)

‘But I think he’s often in the line of the goal and he’s playing a massive role in a lot of moments of football for us: in building up attacks, creativity, movement, but also in transitions, in both sides, in the defensive transitions he’s magnificent and doing a really good job so I’m really happy with his performances.’

United were unable to bring in a recognised centre forward in the summer and with Anthony Martial set to miss out again against Tottenham on Wednesday, the lack of goals in the side has been evident.

Ten Hag however is confident his current crop of attackers can deliver.

‘I think Rashy [Marcus Rashford] scored five goals out of 11, Antony wasn’t involved in the first games but scored three in his first four appearances, Jadon Sancho scored three goals, Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals, [Anthony] Martial, don’t forget him, he scored also three goals.

‘So, I think we have players who can be productive, so that matter of fact is not a real concern.’

MORE : ‘Hopefully more to come’ – Kobbie Mainoo speaks out after first Manchester United call-up

MORE : Erik ten Hag admits no decision has been made over David de Gea’s contract extension

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