Bruno Fernandes is confident his wavering goal-scoring form for Manchester United has nothing to do with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.
Since Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford, the 28-year-old midfielder has experienced a significant drop-off in terms of contributions in front of goal.
Fernandes contributed 29 goals and 19 assists during his first 53 Premier League appearances after joining from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, quickly establishing himself as the Red Devils’ talisman.
However, whilst sharing the dressing room with his Portuguese compatriot, the United star has seen his goal tally plummet by over two thirds, scoring no more than eight in the 40 league appearances since.
Keen to flout any suggestion that the two were linked, Fernandes admitted that he had a ‘poor season’ last campaign and could not ‘blame’ Ronaldo for taking away his duties from the penalty spot.
‘Most of my assists last season were for him, so I don’t think (it is fair),’ he told The Athletic.
‘I just had a poor season in terms of my own numbers. I don’t think it is about Cristiano or myself.
‘Before he came, I was also taking the penalties, but I had two chances to take the penalties last season and I missed both. So I cannot blame Cristiano for taking penalties, especially when he scores them.
‘When I missed against Arsenal in April, it was him who gave me the ball and said, “Go yourself and score”. I missed but I felt that he trusted me to be the one to step up and score in the big moment
‘So I don’t think it is because of Cristiano, it is because I didn’t do the best in myself in some moments to get goals or assists.’
The two Red Devils stars have been named in Fernando Santos’ Nations League squad ahead of Portugal’s clashes against Czech Republic on Saturday and Spain on Tuesday.
Fernandes urged that his issues in front of goal have not been a problem when they share the pitch with Portugal.
‘In the national team, I play with him and when I score, he is on the pitch,’ he said. ‘To play with Cristiano as a No 10 is actually really good because players respect Cristiano so much that it creates more space, as the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring.
‘I played the last four Premier League games without Cristiano starting and I scored only one goal. So it is not because of Cristiano. It is about momentum, timing. Sometimes it goes in a bad way and sometimes a better way.
‘Obviously he can be really good to play together with, for someone who gives assists, as if you give him the right ball, he will score goals.’