BRUNO FERNANDES says Old Trafford is big enough for both him and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fernandes scored 29 goals and contributed 19 assists in his first 53 Premier League games after arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020 in a £55million deal.
But his last 40 top-flight appearances have yielded only eight strikes and he has set up just seven goals.
In most of the games that saw his numbers drop, Ronaldo was also on the pitch – having made his return from Juventus in 2021.
Since then there have been repeated claims his form has suffered thanks to a battle of egos between the pair. Ronaldo has even taken Fernandes’ job as penalty taker.
Yet the playmaker insists any problems he has had do not mean fingers should be pointed at his fellow countryman and Portugal team-mate.
Fernandes said: “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.
“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.
Most read in Football
“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 No 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.”
Fernandes also defended his rants at refs during matches.
He told The Athletic: “I play for Man Utd, so I know all the cameras are on our players.
“At Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha is always moaning at the referee. It is because he gets fouled.
“Fernandinho, who was at Manchester City, was always moaning at the referee.”