Manchester United, Bruno Fernandes and the Pereira Paradox

The Latin American flavour has become a necessity for every team aspiring for greatness. A glance at any top team in Europe and you will see that this holds true. After all, Latin America is where magic happens, right? The greatest of the greats have come from the region and even the ones that did not quite reach their heights have done enough to build the rapport of the region.

So naturally, when Andreas Pereira was coming through the ranks at Manchester United, there was obvious enthusiasm, excitement and borderline ecstasy at finally finding a domestically developed player with the Samba flair. His loan at Granada made things worse, with fans calling for him to be included in the first-team straight away. I know I did.

But, a closer look at the Brazilian will tell you that Pereira has been living a paradoxical lie. Yes, he was promising. But, Pereira never fully knew his natural position. Playing on the wings and in the hole at Manchester United in the lower age groups to playing in central midfield for Granada, Pereira never really knew what he was good at, except passing the ball.

Jose Mourinho tried Pereira at central midfield. While there were performances that held promise, it was soon broken in the mistakes that he committed afterwards. Cut to the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and it looked like youth was about to bloom at Manchester United once again, with Pereira among the ones at the forefront of the revolution.

The first thing Solskjaer did in the summer was to make Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial his options upfront, letting Romelu Lukaku go and not sign a replacement, placing his faith in youth. But, Rashford and Martial were both proven to an extent to provide goals, only not as much as Lukaku.

The baby-faced assassin though, took a bolder step by not signing a natural number 10. The summer saw the walls at Manchester United rumble with echoes of Bruno Fernandes and Paulo Dybala only for the club to go into the season with no arrivals. Paulo Dybala’s demands were deemed too high for a player whose first preference was not Manchester United.

The argument made sense, with Solskjaer stating that he only wanted players who ‘really want’ to play for the club; for the badge. Bruno Fernandes was surprisingly, as it was revealed by reports afterwards, deemed not good enough for Manchester United.

A number 10 who contributed 50 goals last season was deemed not good enough. People went along with it, probably with the view that maybe Solskjaer and his team had seen something in the current options that made them reach that conclusion. After all, the pre-season was so fruitful, wasn’t it? But, what has transpired since has been a blasphemy.

A boy among men. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
A boy among men. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Andreas Pereira donned the number 10 role, with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata taking turns on the right. Pereira was handed the role the fans and probably he himself was gunning for, perhaps, ever. Cut to the present moment and you realise we have all been living in a lie.

Pereira failed to string passes together at Newcastle, the one thing he always knew how to do. The Brazilian kept losing possession every now and then at crucial parts of the pitch, offensively and otherwise. His desperation showed every time he tried to gain the ball back.

Sadly, there’s nothing Brazilian about Andreas Pereira’s game right now, apart from the recklessness or the chaos. On the other hand, the Bruno Fernandes they deemed not enough has 7 goals and 5 assists in 10 games so far. Makes you wonder what Manchester United saw in Pereira to not follow up on their interest in the Portuguese, doesn’t it?

But, it also makes you wonder just how viable the youth revolution is at Manchester United. A glance at Chelsea would show how things are done right. Frank Lampard did not thrust every youngster he had into the starting lineup or the first-team squad nor did he allow experienced personnel like Olivier Giroud, Pedro and Willian to leave.

Yes, Chelsea have Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham firing on all cylinders. But, Lampard has a backup plan in the names mentioned above. Above all, Lampard has experience in the dressing room, personnel who can guide the youth.

Who does Pereira have in the dressing room he can look up to as a role model? Juan Mata, perhaps. The Spaniard though, a natural number 10, hasn’t ever played fruitfully at that position in the Premier League and since the arrival of Pereira in the first-team squad at Manchester United, Mata hasn’t exactly shown his quality.

Conclusion? Andreas Pereira was never good enough to be a regular at Manchester United but hasn’t also been given the right conditions to breed and nurture his talent. Going into the season without a quality and experienced number 10 was a mistake; an even bigger one was not signing Bruno Fernandes.

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