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Bruno Fernandes looked tired and ‘nervous’ in Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal, says Arsene Wenger


Bruno Fernandes had an uncharacteristically quiet evening as Manchester United came up short in the Europa League final (Picture: Getty)

Arsene Wenger says Bruno Fernandes looked ‘nervous’ in Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal and reckons the attacking midfielder may have been struggling with ‘fatigue’ as he was ‘on his knees’ towards the end of a gruelling campaign.

The 26-year-old notched up 18 goals and 12 assists for United across a phenomenal first full season in the English top flight and was rewarded with a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year which was unveiled on Friday evening.

However, Fernandes’ otherwise positive year ended on a sour note as the Red Devils came up short in last month’s Europa League final, with Villarreal succeeding where so many have failed by nullifying the Portuguese’s threat.

Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand heaped praise on Villarreal head coach Emery for ‘snuffing out’ Fernandes in their post-match analysis for BT Sport and Wenger agrees that United’s talisman had an uncharacteristically quiet evening in Gdansk.

Fernandes scored 18 goals in the Premier League this season (Picture: Getty)

But the iconic ex-Arsenal manager feels Fernandes simply had nothing left to give after dragging his team-mates over the line on so many occasions across an energy-sapping campaign.

‘I personally feel that he finished the season on his knees, and he missed the spark,’ Wenger told beIN SPORTS.

‘And sometimes you can see as well, I found him much more nervous in the game so that as well is a sign of fatigue.

‘Your top level is calm, concentration, control. And in the last four or five games, I found him a bit weak on that front.

‘So I hope that he can recover to be efficient for Portugal.’

Wenger believes Portugal will be among the main challengers at this summer’s Euros (Picture: Getty)

Wenger has labelled world champions France as the ‘super favourites’ to win this summer’s European Championships but believes Fernandes’ Portugal are also firmly in the mix as they look to defend their 2016 crown.

‘Portugal at the moment to me looks to be the best equipped to be dangerous because they won the European Championship in France,’ he added.

‘They have since had good results in the Nations League, and overall, I would say they have great offensive potential as well.

‘They have [Diogo] Jota who plays now at Liverpool, who is a very convincing player.

‘Of course, we have the monster with [Cristiano] Ronaldo, he has an unbelievable conversion rate, and they have good creative players.’

Wenger is adamant Ronaldo remains Portugal’s key player as his ability to produce the goods in decisive moments is ‘something that no manager can give’.

‘He’s still the main man because for what he has done and for that capacity to still turn up in the decisive moments,’ the Frenchman went on.

‘These guys have something that no manager can give.

‘He’s still the main man because for what he has done, and for that capacity to still turn up in the decisive moments.

‘These guys have something that no manager can give. When they’re there to be scrutinised and to see, “Let’s see, my friend, if you turn up,” they turn up!’


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