November 29, 2023

Casemiro and Rashford’s statements prove Manchester United’s most significant player

Casemiro and Rashford's statements prove Manchester United's most significant player

Casemiro and Rashford’s statements prove Manchester United’s most significant player

As the Manchester United players prepared to trek up the Wembley steps to collect their silver medals, it was a touching gesture for Bruno Fernandes to go first.

Technically, Harry Maguire is still the club captain, but it is abundantly obvious that the Portuguese is regarded as the true leader of the United team.

This summer will undoubtedly mark the official transition of power. Maguire is expected to depart the club, and Fernandes is considered the most likely candidate to assume the captaincy.

A year ago, Fernandes appeared to be an unusual addition to Erik ten Hag’s team. It is a testament to his diligence and skill that he has remained significant and contributed new things to his side.

He continues to be a square peg in a round cavity. The 28-year-old is prone to taking unnecessary risks, losing the ball too frequently, and allowing his emotions to get the best of him in high-pressure situations.

However, it is his fiery disposition and volatile unpredictability that make him so dangerous. He is still the catalyst for this United team, but he is now flourishing alongside other football savants on the same frequency.

One could argue that Fernandes has just completed his finest season in a United uniform. Yes, there have been previous seasons in which he was the team’s star player and scored the most goals, but he is now more of a team player than a talisman.

Even though he isn’t generating the incredible numbers of the past, his 14 goals and 15 assists for his team in all competitions are still a remarkable feat. Each of the last six seasons, he has recorded double-digit totals in both categories.

Rather than operating as a one-man show, Fernandes is now equally impressive as the support act, and his understated brilliance still frequently takes the spotlight. He has always been the team’s intellect, but now he is also its throbbing heart.

He was previously selfish, but is now altruistic. This season, 27% of his appearances came out of his preferred attacking midfield position, but he never complained and was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater benefit of the team.

“It’s a pleasure to play alongside him,” Casemiro said of his midfield teammate. “He is the engine of the team, the one who helps us the most.”

Marcus Rashford has shared comparable views. The England forward swept the club’s end-of-season honors, but he was divided between Casemiro and Fernandes for player of the year.

“I think I nominated two people,” he stated. “I’m not sure if that’s permitted [laughter]. Case [Casemiro] and Bruno [Fernandes] received my vote. Since joining the team, I believe Case has done an outstanding job and has made us much more secure.

This allowed players like Bruno and [Christian] Eriksen, who I thought had also had an outstanding season, to play their best football.”

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It speaks volumes about Fernandes’ character and dedication that he is so highly regarded by his peers, and it also demonstrates United’s progress that he is no longer the only player they rely on.

Casemiro and Rashford’s statements prove Manchester United’s most significant player

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