Bruno Fernandes has played down suggestions that he finds it difficult to play his best football when he is operating alongside Manchester United and Portugal teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 27-year-old had another productive season for the 20-time English champions in 2021-22, scoring 10 goals and registering 14 assists in 46 appearances in all competitions.
However, the attacker found it difficult to show his best form for periods of the campaign, and there suggestions that Ronaldo’s arrival upset his rhythm at Old Trafford.
Fernandes has insisted that he enjoys playing alongside the 37-year-old, who has only found the back of the net on one occasion for the Red Devils this season.
“Most of my assists last season were for him, so I don’t think (it is fair). I just had a poor season in terms of my own numbers. I don’t think it is about Cristiano,” Fernandes told The Athletic.
“Before he came I was taking the penalties but I had two chances to take them 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 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. In the national team I play with him and when I score, he is on the pitch.
“To play with Cristiano as a number 10 is actually really good because players respect him so much that it creates more space, as the opponents are afraid of him taking the ball and scoring.
“They want to mark him and they create an overload where he is to mark him. When I scored two goals against North Macedonia (in March’s World Cup play-off), one was from his assist and the other was from his run, which created the space behind him for me to score.
“I played the last four Premier League games without Cristiano starting and I scored only one goal. So it is not because of Cristiano. Sometimes it goes in a bad way and sometimes a better way.”
Ronaldo was strongly linked with a move away from Man United over the summer, but the transfer window closed with the experienced forward still at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese scored 24 goals and registered three assists in 38 appearances at club level during the 2021-22 campaign following his return from Juventus.
The former Sporting Lisbon youngster has found it difficult to secure starts in the Premier League this season, but Fernandes has been a key player for Erik ten Hag‘s side, wearing the armband of late due to Harry Maguire dropping out of the first XI.