Bruno Fernandes has admitted he felt the “spirits from the past” that haunted Manchester United as they suffered defeat in their first two games of the season – but believes Erik ten Hag gave them an identity and a belief has given.
They lost 2-1 at home to Brighton in the opening weekend of the season before suffering a shock 4-0 defeat at Brentford, ending the positivity of the previous season.
United endured a disastrous afternoon at the Gtech Community Stadium in their second Premier League game of the campaign, conceding four goals in 25 minutes in the first half to move from bottom of the table.
The Portuguese star said the performance reminded him of the dark days towards the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure, which were followed by the absent-minded drift of Ralf Rangnick’s interim spell.
But United have bounced back strongly since that trough, winning their next four Premier League games, with Liverpool and Arsenal among the losers.
Fernandes told The Athletic: “You can feel it between us, between the fans, in the atmosphere, it was like going back in time.
“Everyone felt that confidence was low again. Everyone was a little – don’t worry – but not the best feeling taking the ball. I sometimes had the feeling that they were the ghosts of the past.
‘Then Brentford was even worse. We conceded a goal out of nowhere and suddenly you could see that the team’s energy was low, confidence was low.’
Fernandes describes Rangnick as “a good manager with good ideas” but admits that his pressing game “didn’t suit everyone”.
He adds: “There was an atmosphere between everyone where trust was low and everything was really down.”
However, the Ten Hag era really began with a 2-1 win over Liverpool and since then they have beaten Southampton, Leicester and Arsenal to spur hopes of a top-four finish.
Fernandes credits the Dutch manager with restoring confidence in United after a turbulent year.
“First, he has an idea. He has style. You have to follow his rules. He’s strict and I like that,” said Fernandes.
“He brought discipline, which I think we’ve missed in the past. Everyone must be on the same page.
“This is Pep [Guardiola] and [Jurgen] Klopp has been doing this for years because they have stability at the club and the way they choose the transfer market and build the team which is really important for them to get the rewards.
United return after the international break with a derby visit to Manchester City.