Bruno Fernandes Addresses Leadership Criticism at Manchester United

Defending the Armband

Bruno Fernandes, the captain of Manchester United, has found himself in the crossfire of criticism, particularly from former skipper Roy Keane. Keane, who led United from 1997 to 2005, suggested that Fernandes should be stripped of the captaincy due to his on-field behavior during the 3-0 derby defeat to Manchester City in October.

Fernandes’ Response

In response to the criticism, Fernandes acknowledged that his captaincy style may not always be perfect but staunchly defended his leadership of Erik ten Hag’s team. During a recent news conference, Fernandes expressed, “Obviously you don’t like to be criticized, everyone’s the same, but at the same time I have to do what I think is the best for my team.”

Leadership Style and Team Satisfaction

Fernandes emphasized that his focus remains on the team and those working with him daily. He asserted that, despite not always being right, he believes his leadership style is the right choice at the moment. The Portuguese midfielder stated, “My focus is on the team, the staff, everyone who works with me day by day. I think they are pretty happy with me, the way I am is the same since I arrived at the club, it has not changed since being captain.”

He further added, “I am really open with everyone, so no one until now has had a problem with me. I think I should keep it like that; everyone is pretty happy with my leadership.”

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The Journey to Captaincy

Fernandes, who joined Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, assumed the captain’s armband in the summer after Harry Maguire was replaced by manager Erik ten Hag. The 29-year-old midfielder has been a subject of criticism even before becoming captain, and he believes part of it stems from his stellar start at Old Trafford.

High Expectations and Criticism

“In the beginning, everything was perfect because when you arrive in the first game, if you do something different than anyone else is doing, it’s going to be all flowers,” Fernandes explained. However, he acknowledged the challenges that followed, stating, “But after that, I understand the tough part is always coming because when the result is not coming, when the performances are not what everyone expects to be, because the expectations are always higher and higher.”

Fernandes also highlighted the pressure he faces due to his initial impressive performances. “I know since I arrived at the club, my numbers made myself a target, so not keeping the same numbers on goals and assists is sometimes a problem for me. Now it is the captaincy; there is always going to be something.”

Personal Growth and Learning

The Manchester United captain acknowledged that he is not always right in his decisions, indicating a willingness to learn and grow. “Probably I am not always right, but in my head at the moment it is the right choice, so I do it,” Fernandes admitted. This acknowledgment reflects a sense of humility and self-awareness, essential qualities for a leader looking to navigate challenges and criticism.

Team Unity and Satisfaction

Fernandes stressed the unity within the team and the positive atmosphere he believes he fosters. “I am really open with everyone, so no one until now has had a problem with me, so I think I should keep it like that; everyone is pretty happy with my leadership,” he affirmed. This highlights the importance Fernandes places on maintaining a harmonious team environment, suggesting that despite external criticism, internal satisfaction remains crucial for him.


As the debate around Bruno Fernandes’ captaincy continues, the midfielder remains steadfast in his belief that he is the right leader for Manchester United. The scrutiny faced by Fernandes underscores the intense expectations and challenges that come with wearing the captain’s armband at one of the most iconic football clubs in the world.