Bruno Fernandes has hit back at Jose Mourinho and critics of his and Manchester United’s penalty record by pulling out a stat comparing him to Kevin De Bruyne.
The Portuguese midfielder says he “did not feel stung” by Mourinho’s comments after the Tottenham boss blasted United’s penchant for winning spot kicks.
Mourinho said: “Bruno came in, was fit, played very well, improved the United team and also proved to be a great penalty taker, one of the best in the world, because he had about 20 to score.”
United did set a new Premier League record last season after being awarded 14 penalties across their 38 matches, and won a further eight in cup competitions; but Fernandes was not bothered by the criticism.
“I honestly did not feel stung,” Fernandes told A Bola.
“I feel that I am a good penalty taker and nothing more, I understand, but what I take from his [Mourinho’s] words, because I’m a very positive person, is that he said I hit penalties well.
“It is a reality, not least since I arrived at Manchester United.”
The 25-year-old also fought his own corner to defend his own strike rate.
Of Fernandes’ 12 goals in a Red Devils’ shirt, eight of them came from 12 yards.
But he continued: “I hear people saying, ah, he only scores from penalty kicks… but a little while ago, I saw the statistics and, except for penalties, only Kevin De Bruyne has a higher involvement in goals than me in England when it comes to midfielders.”
It almost goes without saying that Fernandes’ contribution to United stretches far beyond merely his goals tally.
He was instrumental in helping his side to a third-placed finish and three cup semi-finals after his arrival in January gave United a real boost.
And former United defender Gary Neville feels Fernandes will pick up where he left off next season.
Neville told Sky Sports : “His attitude doesn’t tell me, and when you watch him, his performances don’t tell me that there’s going to be a dip because he just looks like he’s got that belief in himself and the courage to take the ball.
“Even if he has a difficult start to the season he’ll not lose that belief to get on the ball and go and find space, try and play the pass that is difficult and try and play the ball forward.
“That’s the big thing for me, he always looks for a pass forward to try and unlock a team. He’s enabled the front three to become a lot better.”