What Can Manchester United Fans Expect From Their Two New Arrivals?6 min read
It might have taken longer than anticipated but Manchester United signed two important players that fill, albeit in one case temporarily, positions that were crying out for reinforcements.
Bruno Fernandes joined from Sporting CP for £50 million, with a plethora of bonuses attached to that – some easier to achieve than others – and Odion Ighalo made his way from Shanghai Shenhua in China to join on-loan for six months.
While there is no outright buy option in the contract with Manchester United, it is to be expected that the Red Devils will find it easier to negotiate a potential purchase with Shenhua should they feel it is the right decision to keep the Nigeria international beyond the initial six months.
Fernandes joins with a strong reputation. With a combined 50 goals and assists in the 2018/2019 season for Sporting, the Portugal international shows how accustomed he is to contributing in the final third – something Manchester United have struggled with emphatically for a number of years.
While there is of course going to be an incubation period needed for Fernandes, his first game, which came within a matter of days after signing, was promising to say the least. It is clear that he was not overwhelmed by the occasion and felt confident in his own ability to shoot when the opportunity presented itself.
Over the next two weeks, Fernandes will look to gel with his team-mates ahead of the club’s next match against Chelsea in the Premier League, quickly followed up by Club Brugge in the Europa League.
Slotting in as either a number 10 or eight, Fernandes has the ability to play in midfield, or even out wide, with ease. The Portuguese playmaker is a team player and one that leads by example, wherever he is used on the pitch. Ole Gunnar Solskjær will want him in the central areas to break down teams’ low-blocks, but should there be a crisis out wide, Fernandes is more than adaptable to fill the space.
What Fernandes should be able to bring is a certain level of panache to Man United’s final third. Missing a key playmaker and ‘number 10’, the former Sporting captain can offer the killer through ball that splits the defence in half and releases the centre forward. Likewise, he can – as shown throughout his time in Portugal – strike a ball and routinely find the back of the net.
Contrasting Fernandes’ deft touch and silky style, a player of Ighalo’s stature and style was a much-needed acquisition for the Red Devils. With the injury to Marcus Rashford and inconsistency of Anthony Martial, it was clear as day that Solskjær needed to improve his centre forward options.
As Ighalo rightly pointed out in his first interview since joining the club, Martial and Rashford are more inverted wingers that enjoy starting, or drifting, from wide positions. The club, up until signing Ighalo, had not had a traditional striker that does the dirty work and brings others into play with his back to goal.
With the top scorer of the African Cup of Nations in their roster, United now have the physicality of a centre forward that has been sincerely lacking. Ighalo might be known for his strength and aggressive nature, but he knows where the goal is, which is backed up by his 17 goals and six assists in 55 Premier League appearances for Watford.
The expectations for Ighalo are relatively low, given he is not on the same level as an Edinson Cavani, but there is an excitement and willingness for fans to get behind him due to his long-term affinity to Manchester United. It is clear that he will run through brick walls for the jersey.
More work is clearly needed in the summer for recruitment, but Fernandes and Ighalo, respectively, can offer their considerable help in trying to achieve a successful second-half of the season and qualification for the Champions League.