Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Bruno Fernandes’ “massive impact” after his performance helped guide the Red Devils to third in the Premier League and a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Fernandes scored a 71st-minute penalty and substitute Jesse Lingard netted in the eighth minute of stoppage time as United defeated Leicester 2-0 on the final day of the Premier League season.
After Anthony Martial was fouled by Jonny Evans inside the penalty area, Fernandes stepped up to convert the spot-kick with 19 minutes remaining at the King Power Stadium, where Lingard completed the scoring at the death on Sunday.
Fernandes has transformed United since his January arrival from Portuguese outfit Sporting CP – the star midfielder’s eight league goals and seven assists helping Solskjaer’s side complete an unlikely comeback in the top-four chase, having found themselves fifth, 14 points and 20 goals worse off than Leicester in second following the January 1 defeat to Arsenal.
“We have to admit that he’s come in and been a massive influence. He’s made a massive impact,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“He’s been fantastic scoring goals, creating goals, but also his enthusiasm and mentality around the place has helped. Maybe today you can see a tired Bruno, and that’s natural because he’s played too much.
“You can see his passion. He’s moaning a little bit here and there, so we’ll have to take that away from him sometimes. But he’s stepped up, calm as you like, and slotted away the penalty.”
Solskjaer added: “I need to go and watch him myself [before signing a player]. I’ve always known, I’ve seen him on telly and that stuff, when I went to see him live he was exceptional in his enthusiasm, the way he wanted to win, winning mentality. That was fantastic when I saw him.
“But I have to go back to all the chief scouts. The scouting network has been really good, so it’s not like I can just pick someone and if five of them say no, I’ll force things through. It’s a team effort there as well. But of course, Bruno has come in and been fantastic for us.”