Bruno Fernandes' brilliant winner against Aston Villa not only broke the latter's ten-match unbeaten streak, but also solidified Manchester United's position in the race for Champions League qualification. The match took place at Old Trafford, the scene of ongoing protests against the ownership of the Glazer family.
However, United boss Erik ten Hag remains steadfast in his belief that the bond between the team and its fans remains strong.
"A True Leader"
When asked about Fernandes' performance, ten Hag had nothing but praise for the Portuguese international and United captain.
"Bruno is a true leader. A few weeks ago, there were questions raised about his captaincy, which is absurd, as he is a massive influence on the team. He leads by example and brings so much energy, desire, and determination. If you want to win games and trophies, you need players like him." Fernandes' versatility on the pitch was also highlighted by ten Hag, who stated: "Bruno is crucial to our success as he can play both in a deeper role, making precise passes, and also excels as a presser, closing down opponents at the right moments.
Even when our press is beaten, he knows when to track back and shut down passing lines. He has an array of skills that make him a pleasure to work with."
Casemiro Back to His Best
When asked about Casemiro's performance against Villa, ten Hag expressed his satisfaction with the Brazilian's return to form.
"Every player goes through ups and downs, and Casemiro's recent suspensions may have disrupted his rhythm. But today, we saw the Casemiro we have been accustomed to all season. He brings a great deal of organization, composure, and determination, and his leadership is paramount to the team's success.
In the second half, we saw a determined and passionate team that was more eager to win than its opponent." Ten Hag was also asked about the potential impact of the ongoing protests on the team's performance. He replied, "We felt the support of the fans during the game and it is our duty to focus on success, as that is what they expect from us.
We will continue to deliver strong performances, and I am confident that the fans will remain behind us, bringing a lot of energy and strengthening the bond between the players and fans."
United Deserved the Win
Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery acknowledged Manchester United's victory and stated, "Today, I am a little disappointed but United deserved the win.
At 1-0, anything can happen in the remaining 90 minutes, and we could have scored. However, we need to close the gap and create more opportunities to win in the future. After analyzing the match, we can take away valuable information and aim to perform better next time."