Bruno Fernandes has explained his heated on-pitch altercations with Harry Maguire and Tyrell Malacia, while insisting his on-pitch body language is never negative.
The Portuguese star often cut a dour figure during Manchester United’s thoroughly underwhelming 2021/22 season, which saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and the team drifted under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
But Fernandes, who has returned to what is nearing his best form under Erik ten Hag this season, says it never was.
He told The Athletic: “The kind of thing people say about me waving my arms at my teammates. This has never happened before. That’s a complete lie.
“I can use my arms to ask for the ball and tell them something about where to move the ball. But I never badmouth them.
“Yes, I can yell at someone when they don’t pass the ball, when they have to, or when they don’t make the decision optimally, or when they go two-on-one and the ball doesn’t pass their teammate. Then it’s normal to be angry with him.”
Fernandes gave two examples of heated conversations during United games. One was with left-back Tyrell Malacia, a summer newcomer at Old Trafford, during the 1-0 win at Leicester earlier this month.
The playmaker urged Malacia to look up and look for passing opportunities as he found himself in open space on the opposite side of the pitch.
“He was pretty mad at me for talking to him. But he didn’t understand what I said,” said Fernandes.
Fernandes went to Malacia at the end of the game to reassure him that he wasn’t yelling “in a bad way” but just begged him to change the game.
Another occasion came during the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals against Copenhagen when Maguire yelled at Fernandes for losing the ball when trying to take on an opponent instead of clearing the ball.
“I lost the ball and he yelled at me: ‘Bruno, hold the ball!’. I was tired and said, ‘Don’t shout!’ Fernandes remembered.
“In the first half of extra time, I went up to him and said, ‘Sorry to speak back’.”