The case of Fernandes:
Bruno Fernandes was United’s most successful acquisition in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, with his arrival proving the catalyst for much of Solskjaer’s success at the club, helping the team rank back-to-back among the top four with his 44 goal contributions in 51 league games throughout the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
Yet his frantic nature, which can be effective in transition situations, proved frustrating last season and regularly led to a loss of possession. Although giving away the ball is not something Ten Hag takes lightly, he clearly sees Fernandes as a key part of the team, starting him in five of United’s six pre-season games.
Previously, Fernandes gave the impression that he was trying too hard and defined every pass as one leading to a goal. He certainly has the quality to be a major creative outlet in the Ten Hag system, but he can also benefit from clearer goals and a more structured role in the team, which he now seems to be getting.
Christian Eriksen, on the other hand, is very good at ball retention and is easily the more orderly player of the two, which may be exactly why he was wanted by Ten Hag. Within five minutes of his debut for the club against Atletico Madrid, he demonstrated his class with two long-ball pings, one of which almost resulted in a goal.
The following day he made his first start and immediately stood out in midfield, giving Man Utd a great way to switch the ball from defense to attack and play a part in their only goal of the game .
Both of these people are great choices to have in midfield. Eriksen’s game is arguably more complete but, on the other hand, Fernandes can provide great pressure intensity, as well as a high-risk, high-reward casual game pattern. However, it may not boil down to one or the other. If the right balance can be found, most likely in the form of a deeper midfield, Eriksen and Fernandes could play side by side against defensive opponents.