Erik ten Hag has backed Bruno Fernandes to continue as Manchester United captain after the Portugal international popped up with a late winner in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Fulham.
Fernandes has faced questions over his suitability for the captaincy, with iconic former United captain Roy Keane insisting the 29-year-old is “the opposite to what I would want in a captain”.
Despite the mounting pressure on his shoulders, Fernandes led by example as he struck in the dying embers to snatch all three points for United in what was an otherwise uninspired team performance against Fulham.
“I don’t understand it,” Ten Hag told TNT Sports of the criticism of Fernandes. “Everyone has their mistakes. Nobody is perfect, but he does a lot of things very well.
“He showed every time as a captain that he is an example. You see today how he is working, how he’s pressing, and in the end he scores a goal. He’s massively important for us.”
Ten Hag added: “So often already, from the moment I make him captain, he did this. Always when he’s playing he is giving energy, he is the example and you see the way he is pressing, the way he is counter-pressing, the way he is doing the recovery, he is absolutely the example.
“And he is taking responsibility all the time on and off the pitch and scoring important goals, for instance. But he also wants to have the ball, wants to create so I’m happy with my captain.”
While United’s performance was far from perfect, Ten Hag insisted he saw enough from his squad to feel as though progress is being made.
“It’s a good win, a solid performance,” Ten Hag continued. “Every game, we have to win. I think it was a solid performance, I am pleased with it, I am pleased with the spirit of the team and the way we pressed against Fulham.
“They play very decent football from the back and we never allowed that, we were very good in the pressing and winning second balls, and ball progressing but it’s clear in the box we have to create more.
“And I think the composure on the ball was a step up.”
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