Man Utds Bruno Fernandes doubt could give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chance to test PSG theory

Solskjaer previews Man Utd v Liverpool in Premier League

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Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes is a doubt for Sunday’s Premier League showdown with Liverpool – but it could benefit Cristiano Ronaldo. If Fernandes isn’t fit to start it could give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the chance to pair Ronaldo with Edinson Cavani – emulating a tactic used successfully by Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

Solskjaer said Fernandes is a doubt for Sunday’s game after the playmaker picked up a knock in Wednesday’s Champions League win over Atalanta.

“Games like Wednesday night are always going to bring knocks and bruises,” the United boss said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“We do have two or three from that game. Bruno might be one of them that is a doubt, but he’s doing everything he can to be ready.”

Fernandes has had a huge impact since joining Solskjaer’s side in January 2020, but if he misses out it could give the manager a chance to get more out of Ronaldo.

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That’s according to Tony Cascarino, who said Portugal’s fortunes at Euro 2020 showed Ronaldo and Fernandes didn’t work well together in the same side.

The former Chelsea striker said Ronaldo needs attacking players alongside him to do the “dirty work” – such as when he played with Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

He highlighted how it was a role played by Edinson Cavani at Paris Saint-Germain, with the striker putting in the hard yards while Neymar and Kylian Mbappe grabbed the glory.

Cascarino also suggested Fernandes was the only player who could conceivably be dropped to accommodate another striker – and Solskjaer could put the theory to the test on Sunday.

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Writing in his column for The Times, Cascarino said Ronaldo “needs players around him with both pace and the ability to chase the ball and hound defenders”, adding: “It is what we call the dirty work.”

“The rest of the team has to pay a price for having Ronaldo.

“It is the same situation that Portugal had at the European Championship: Ronaldo and Fernandes do not work in the same side. The team becomes too easy to play against as a consequence, and Fernandes is the only movable object.”

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Cascarino said Cavani is the “perfect solution”, adding: “At Paris Saint-Germain, he did the same dirty work for Neymar and Kylian Mbappé that Benzema did for Ronaldo at Real. 

“I watched a lot of PSG and out of all of their superstars it was Cavani that made the biggest difference. He has all the experience in the world, works his socks off, and would give Ronaldo the safety net he needs.”

Cascarino said Jesse Lingard could be another option for United, arguing that the England forward’s work off the ball is “underrated”.

Ronaldo has come up with crucial goals for United so far this season, scoring late winners in their last two Champions League games after also netting against West Ham and Newcastle.

The 36-year-old has come under fire for his perceived lack of pressing – but Sunday’s game against Liverpool could present Solskjaer with the perfect opportunity to find a solution.

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