Bruno Fernandes interview: Winding up refs, beating Liverpool & his ‘dream’ Man United move (PART 1)

By | September 20, 2022

Bruno Fernandes joined Adam Crafton from The Athletic for an exclusive interview covering a range of topics, from his on pitch personality to winding up referees to how Manchester United have begun to turn their season around under Erik ten Hag.

Watch part 2 tomorrow morning from 7am UK time where Bruno discusses Solskjaer's sacking, Ten Hag's new ideas and his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo.

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00:00 His family and early career
2:58 Standing near referees
5:50: Brentford defeat & beating Liverpool
11:29 Lisandro Martinez's impact
14:06 Moaning on the pitch
21:43 Tottenham interest & leaving Sporting
23:01 His 'dream' Man United move
29:30 Solskjaer and Ronaldo

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#brunofernandes #mufc #theathletic


[Music] Okay perfect Perfect Um First of all I just want to talk a little bit about You've had some recent birthdays In the family right yeah and i didn't Know that bruno fernandez was going to Be such a big fan of paw patrol No Obviously my My daughter is was already a big fan Probably she was she's the the the Biggest fan of of them two But obviously the other one is growing Up he has the toys of of the sister So I think is probably paw patrol and Spider-man is the two ones that he's Recognized more at what age did you Start to be Crazy about football so Obviously all the mom says that but my Mom says that even when i was Still too born i was i was already Kicking kicking her all the time i don't Know if it was because i don't like her But she always said that Since since i start walking i was i was Kicking balls and playing around my Father used to play on the on the Saturdays with his friend with his Friends obviously old people on his 40s

30s some ones some of my bigger cousins That they are really it was it was old When i was like 12 13 i always want to Play with them obviously my father Most of the time he didn't let me play Because you know when you when you're Young you're a little bit you don't Think about so you want to do all the Tricks all the stuffs and when you play Against old people they start kicking You so my father sometimes he doesn't Want me to play because also him was Kicking me and he he was he was pretty Pretty strong when he was to about to Kick me so sometimes i play other times But with my brother yes i was always Playing he was he's five years older Than me against his friends so it was Always good games for me to improve and To get better but it's funny people Always say when new players particularly From abroad come to england they might Be surprised by the physicality and how Strong the league and the players are But you were playing against men when You were 12 13. yeah that that's that's What i think i I always said in for me for myself and i Always said to everyone like It doesn't matter if you play you aren't 17 18 and you start playing for the First team they will be older than you Will always be people older than you Even when you arrive at your 30s can be

Always someone with 30 to 33 or even 38 37 so they will be older than you they Still they still have more years in you More experience so it's about you Getting getting used to playing against Older people and try to be smarter than Them try to to understand what you can Do if you are not stronger or you are Not quicker what you can do what you can Use what what can be your weapons to To beat them to be better than them so Improve yourself that's it how much do You think about that before a game and Then during a game because i imagine you Will watch A clip of the player that might be Mocking you before the game but then Actually once the game starts How much are you thinking oh i think i Might be faster than him i think i might Be able to do him with a trick How fluid is that Obviously the manager always shows us The base of the team And so we can understand where where Will be the spaces Where where Probably will be better for you to be In position to get the ball in position To get your shot in position to get your Goal or assist Or in position to create space for other People So we always know

What kind of player we're playing Against but at the same time like what Kind of team we play against but because Sometimes it's more important to know The team that the player in because the Play can be sub after five minutes or Less For me that play as the 10 is finding The positions that Are never occupied or not basically Sometimes like the the dead zones where No one can see you or no one can Can mark you because if they mark you They will create a bigger space in the Middle of the beach for other people so For me it's about moving around and Understand the spaces that i can create Are moving to and you call them the dead Zones Normally i call that the referee zone Because he's Normally no one marks the referee so he Used to be Used to be free so normally sometimes What Most of the coaches say to the To the players that play between the Lines even the wingers when they want to Come inside the striker when he wants to Drop the midfielders they always try to Say the The point where the referee is is always A good point because no one is marking The referee so

Sometimes you use that but you know that The position of the referee Most of times is different because can Be a counter even when you're playing Sometimes it can be in the opposite side Where you are playing it and you cannot Move from one side to the other side uh To get to get that space so do you think The referees know The number 10s are thinking well i don't I don't think so but it's about number 10 number eight wingers Uh as i said and it depends on the Moment underway the referee whistle Because for example um Uh mike dean that is not whistling Anymore he was not He was most of the times in the center Of the pitch so for us it was not about Getting in his position because it was Really central for the game because for Him probably was better to see the game But for us as a position we that cannot Be our position so you have to find out Where you can go But obviously for me playing as a 10 is Trying to be between the lines between The midfielders and defenders and try to Find the spaces where you can be free to Receive the ball and be dangerous for Your team Obviously at the moment i think it's Probably fair to say It's one of the happier periods at man

United compared to maybe the last the Last year or so the last few weeks has Been really encouraging for Four consecutive wins In the premier league i know you're Going to say we're not getting carried Away But I suppose i just want to take you back a Little bit to I was there against brentford the second Week of the season And after 35 minutes you look at the Scoreboard and you see 4-0 Brentfordman united what what what's Going through your head at that moment No i i said that after after bryant After brighton obviously and Obviously getting that result again Even worse against brentford was really Bad for us and for our confidence Because against brighton we felt that We're playing really good And all of a sudden we consider goal and You could feel it between us between the Fans between the In the atmosphere That Was like getting back to the past Um And everyone felt that The confidence get low again Everyone was a little bit like he's not Like afraid but

Not feeling the best to take to take the Ball to do your best to trying to create Something Uh you felt like sometimes you say the Ghost ghosts from the past And uh against brentford was even worse We consider gold from nothing And all of a sudden you couldn't see That The energy of the team was low The confidence was low and this was from Everyone not just one player two players And everyone in the team knows that Brighton and brent for game was not The beginning of brighton yes but not to Rest was not the standard that we can Deliver so Uh obviously I could feel it after brentford on the Training sessions that we were gonna do Something different I don't know if we're going to get the Same different result because it was a Big game against liverpool we want that You we you could feel that that everyone Wants to change the momentum Uh but Was everything perfect obviously we get The first shot anthony got to post After that we scored a goal so the Momentum was for us for the first tackle Was our with the with lycha You get you get the game on on that you Get the funds go on that one so you you

Could see that the moment was there and You could see that the team The confidence of the team gets higher And higher and because we scored a goal And and we could feel it that we can be Dangerous we can we can score goals we Can be dangerous for liverpool and you Could see that liverpool was not taking That many risks so They They start to to have the ball but we Felt comfortable also saying like we are Compact and we know when we recover the Ball we can be we can be a threat for Them and obviously after you get a good Result and from there we build the Momentum And after after the brentford game That was you know you had a week Basically to prepare for the game Against liverpool And i think most people outside of United outside of the training ground That week were thinking last season five Nil Four nil You lose two first two games and i think For supporters there was a little bit of Dread and a little bit afraid To go to that game at old trafford that Night against liverpool thinking What's what's going to happen to us There Now in the newspapers you'll know that

The day after everyone was talking about You you did a lot of running at the Training ground even the head coach was Doing the running as well How how did that the new head coach eric Tenhag Start to rebuild The confidence He just just went just straight to the To To his rules to his demands to what he Wants from us Uh what he knows that we we can do it Um He showed he showed us that We did this In the pre-season in in many games We did we did many good games we did What what i want to do i want to play With intensity i want to play with uh With We're always pressing on the ball i want To have Um players hungry to do to do good Things to To fight for the team to be tough to Beat And uh and obvious as i said We know that the funds was afraid of That game because it's normal liverpool Is a big team liverpool has big threats Um No one uh was expecting liverpool to Come to our home and lose that game no

One even if if someone More A part of us in the dressing room if Someone says no i knew it that united Was going to win that game is a lie Because no one no one was betting if if Even if you know that you can get a big Amount of money on a bet on man united No one would bet in monday night in that Game And uh only only ourselves we and that's What we pass between us like we have to Believe ourselves and trust ourselves Because no one else will help us in that Game no one So it's about us it's about us doing our Job about Us Between each other support each other be Positive bring positive energy We always be always demanding from each Other uh but demanding in a good way and And was as i said before we had a few Tackles in the beginning of the game That you could feel and you can Pass that vibe that positive energy that Togetherness that fighting spirit Between us and and from there you start And certainly i mean you mentioned um Uh lisandro martinez the the intensity And energy That he brought i don't think i've ever Heard The height of a player mentioned so much

Um since he joined the club What does what do you think he's brought To the club and what's been your initial Impression of What he's done for the team Obviously he brought As you see he's really aggressive on the Ball he's a kind of argentinian player Argentina center back they always they Always like that they have that fighting Spirit Uh but also quality on the ball uh he Has showed that Obviously that can be good and can be Bad because in the beginning i was kind Of like that and was really good for Everyone and obviously when you get with Some games and you get not the results Everyone will blame you for doing that Everyone will saying that is not good Enough why is shouting why is tackling Why he's going against him why you know But i like that i like his energy on the Pitch i like him to be aggressive in That way i like him to shout i want to i Want i want i want him to be tough to Beat i want him to be against the Defenders against the strikers like he Does because this is what i get as a Number 10 they do this to me so i want My teammates to do the same for the Other teams Um And obviously he brought that energy in

That intensity that passion that Argentinian players have you know the Latin players normally have like a Further blood so it's kind of normal but Is is about controlling the emotions and He's doing really he's doing that really Well and that's on you in training No it can't be he can't be he has no he Has no no option with me because i'm More tough than him so If if if he kicks me i will kick him Back so but he's and i like that even in Training sessions i want him to be tough For me because in the games we'll be Like that he knows that in the beginning Of in the beginning was a little bit More with eric bailly he was always on Me and he was he was always saying I can't catch you i can catch you Because every time i come to you you Pass one touch if i don't you control The ball and i was so they make a Decision and so from there every time That i get the ball it comes and it just Just slap me straight away give me Something with the knee with the help or Whatever and uh and we carry on this is What it is and the games even uh Obviously in the games i show it a Little bit more and i want to to make it That a reference for the referee because I want to take to take my part and on The game to take falls away from them to Make them

Angry because i go down and he's the Referee gives a fall will give her a Yellow card and and i get momentum from That i do want to ask you about the way You are on the pitch because i think Maybe if people don't know you sometimes They can look at the way that your hands Are waving whether it's at the referee Sometimes at yourself your frustration At yourself Do you need to do that to bring The best out of yourself is that what What's happening or are there times Where It's actually a little bit you're not Fully in control what is it No i that's that's my passion for the Game is the way i is i'm i'm Honestly What you see on the pitch is uh is the Bruno that is passionate for the game The bruno that wants to win the game Uh The bruno that will not give anything Away even With uh with the referees with with the Rivals everything i can i i can even Fight with someone that is my friend out Of the pitch there have a fight have a Proper game intense strong Over and over and that's it i play Against wove they have many portuguese Players if i have to kick them i will Kick them if i have to moan at them i

Will moan it's the game is is the way i Leave the game is the way i have to be For me to be involved in the game i need That i need i did that to feel Uh that i will be at my best because i Did many games when i was quiet and no One said nothing about that But for me was not me in the game was i I didn't felt myself so I need that to be to be alive in the Game to Um And and the part of moaning of the Referees honestly you know you play i Play for men united so i know that all The cameras are on our players and Everyone is saying that everyone does That everyone in the premier league does That if you're gonna see players from Crystal palace for example za is always Moaning to the referee because he gets Fall but that's normal he's it's normal That he moans to the referee he wants His falls he wants the referee to give Yellows uh I don't know fernandinho for example That was at city he was always moaning To the referees he was always kicking me And I never know saw someone saying Something about that Uh bernardo for example that you see as A quiet person is one of the guys that Always talking to raphael probably

Doesn't do in the intense way i do but He's one of the guys that is always on The referee always talking i saw it in The national team i can't see it i know So It's it's the way you are obviously i'm Probably a little bit more intense more Passionate i show it more Uh but do you think the referees enjoy It a little bit having yeah sometimes Some of them yes they like the way i am And And they kind of joke with that also Sometimes One of the referees i don't remember was He said oh my god bruno every time They're winning you're such a good guy When you're going losing or drawing oh My god you i will say this probably you Have to cut this you are a pain of my House And uh and i like that i want to be that I want to be there i want the referee to Feel that i'm there pressing him and Always talking and shouting at him is The way i leave the game is Honestly The the thing that most of the people Say waving with the arms from my Teammates that's never happened that's Is completely lie because I can be using my arms To ask the ball To uh to tell them something to move

Them move the ball to the side see that Side but never in a bad way i will never Do that i can shout at someone because If it doesn't he doesn't pass the ball When he has to do or uh or because he Didn't take the best decision if he goes 2v1 and he doesn't pass the ball to his Teammates yes i will shout with him i Will be angry at him because i think That's quite normal the jesus should be That's part of being a demanding team That's i demand a lot from me i'm i'm i I don't demand more to anyone than Myself But because i demand so much from myself And i know that my teammates demand from Me i demand from them and at the same Way and i demand it for me in a good way And i always said to some to everyone if Anytime you don't want me to talk to you You don't want me to shout at you you Don't want me to help you you can tell Me and i will be quiet with you in the Game after don't tell me that i don't Call you man or i don't call it to pass The ball You you you tell me where the way i want To be and i had a conversation for Example with tyrell the other day after The last game we have some some play we Have the ball is coming true with the Ball obviously we're winning one kneel We have to rest we have to have the ball And he's trying to have the ball he did

It in a good way he passed it to the Side he wants to keep the ball but i was Completely free in the other side so Because leicester moved so much to that That side you could just switch the game And i have the ball on that side they Will come again we make them run go Backwards go to that side again and i Was uh Sometimes in the pitch you have to shout Because you cannot hear the people this Is too far the distance and i was Playing right winger he was left back so The distance was really big And i was saying to him tai just Put your head up and look to the other Side and he was like quite angry because I was talking to him and because he Didn't understand what i was saying you Know he just sees you going yeah Asking like and at the end of the game i Went to him and i said i would i put my My hands on his head i would mad with Him and said when i talk to you i'm not Shouting at you i'm not doing that in a Bad way i was just saying to you to Switch the game and say yeah sorry i was Tired and i said don't worry about that For me it's just communication we have To talk he's about that he said yeah You're right sorry and this is what it Is and in some game probably will be him Shouting at me and i will be okay with That as the way like for example age

Once in Europa league against copenhagen was We winning I think was for quarter finals or Something Someone gave a pass we defending for so Long because i will play like 120 Minutes i think Someone gave a pass i tried to control And go away from the defender and i lost The ball and he shouted at me Renault the baller and i was quite tired Angry and i said hey don't shout The first half of the extra time stopped I went to msa i'm sorry to To get back to you he said you're right I have i should i should have all the Ball you know but sometimes during the Games is Intention passion ball you miss the past He missed the pass it doesn't run And the moment gets a little bit further But it's not No one does i think in a bad way and Honestly this is me talking i never do It in a bad way only as i said before if I see that someone doesn't pass the ball And no easy one tv one with the keeper For example when jayden scored a goal Now i'm getting long but jaden scored a Goal against chelsea when he was two Against the keeper with marcos And he did skill Mandy went there and he scored the goal

I went to him and he had scored a goal And went to him and said Next time make sure that you pass the Ball to marcos that is the easy way to Score the goal And he said Yeah yeah you're right but you know Would you have passed the ball in that Situation yeah in that situation yeah i Always i had one with mason at brentford Uh Obviously sometimes you know When you do a one-two and you get the Ball quick keeper is coming out you Don't get the time to to look to the Side so you get the ball want to control And shoot you have to be quick and that Times i understand you can watch you can Watch to the side but when you have to Run with the ball for so long and you Have a teammate on your side don't tell Me that you didn't see him because he's Not he's a lie So Um we jaiden on that one was the case Uh but anyway i said to him you score I'm i'm happy for that but next time Make sure that you pass the To talk to you a little bit about When you first sign for manchester United um Because you'd had a fantastic season i Think the year before with sporting You i think scored over 30 goals from

Midfield 33 32 they take one away from Me but that's okay So they take one away and then i think I'm right saying that summer Tottenham was pretty close yeah um was It deadline deadline day Was it was Was long but yeah it was out until the Deadline yeah it was it was a long Period but Um Obviously at that moment was a really Good option for me i want i want to go To the premier league Obviously the manager Portraying at the time was the one that Wants me there and in my head was a good Offer from uh from them Sporting Tried the best to keep me And and they sell other two other two Players because they want to keep me on The team so i had to understand that and Obviously i have no regrets for for Everything that i have passed to Sporting because That was my best years as a footballer And as a person i when where i learned Probably the most and where i was Happier the most until now How does that work when when you're a Player and you know you have the dream For the premier league but you also have This big connection

In your heart at the time with sporting Does it work with is it the president That will talk to you or the head coach That talks to you or the players or is It everyone so the president talked to Me at that time but he talked to me in The wrong day was the day after the Decide to refuse my the offer from Tottenham And obviously i was i was pretty angry At that day and i had I had a bad day that one and Luckily for me the manager was The right wine at the right one at the Right time Because i had a bad training session i Was not there with my mind i was really Hungry i was not doing the right things And In the middle of the training session i Understand that I shouldn't do that because the manager Came to me and he said Bruno if you want to go inside You can go i understand your frustration I understand everything And from there In one minute time i said to me to Myself If the manager has to come to me and say That they understand my frustration Everything why should why should i be Like this That they know that i'm frustrated they

Know that I would like to go was a big offer was My dream to play in the premier league And And didn't happen in and from that Moment i said like what is nothing that You can do to go to the premier league Now So Make make sure that you keep doing the Best for the club that has Put a lot of money on you That has believed on you when Uh When you're still really young and in a Good age to do your next step Uh And and the club that gave me the chance Now to be at man united so that's why After after that season that we won two Cups that was really important for us as A club and as a players obviously before Uh all we passed in the The previous year was was something Fantastic so From there on i carry on and i said now I can't do this to this club they don't Deserve me to be in this way and and They had like uh 45 minutes by training session And from there on i had some good uh Some good conversations also with my Teammates that Make sure that i was i was at my best

Level and i did 15 goals in the alpha Season there with sporting so Makes me Be ready for the next step to with United was not at the time that i was Expecting because I was like not expecting to come Out of sporting before that season Because was was was struggling Struggling that season and for me was Like i don't want to finish in this way But for sporting was the moment because At that moment they need money was Struggling financially And I think was the best help that i could Give to the club at that time was was Taking that decision And this is then january 2020 And obviously oligonescio is the manager At manchester united at the time I think he he and mike phelan the Assistant manager came to watch one of Your games At the start of january to watch you In person and actually One of the things that i think we've Written previously is that they They actually liked even though i don't Think you had necessarily the best game That day i think you played porto Porto And i don't think you had maybe the best Game but they liked the personality that

You showed on on the night When did you start to realize You're going to sign for manchester United Was everything really quick um I knew it that was something going on in The last 15 days because my my agent Knows i always have said to him Don't talk to me until you have Something to me to sign and i can decide Yes or no because i don't i want to be Full focus on football and i won't be i Never Honestly The first time that i spoke with a club For a contract was here at united Because the club asked to speak with me I never spoke about my agent always did Everything i know that people probably Will say ah the agents they always take Money for themselves they will take Money for themselves anyway because it's The way he is is the way it works Nothing you can do But i really trust my agent and i think That he will get the best for me And and so My job is to maintain the focus on that And his job is to get the best he can For me so i never did anything like Being on the Meetings or as a contract and stuff Never did that and and for me it was Okay even when i did my renews at

Sporting my first contractor sporting in Italy everything And known None of that times just this time Because the club asked to speak with me If not was him doing everything and Obviously He said to me Like 15 15 days to go he said bruno Just to make sure be ready could be a Chance that man united is Is paying the amount that your sporting Wants because was already conversations Between them and sporting he said But they still have to agree a deal and I said okay i'm okay with that He knew it that was my dream team in England so that's why i said You don't need he said to me in the Beginning of january he said you don't Need to be worried if any time i bring You a club will be a dream club for you So you knew it that was man united so Probably what that's why i said that in That time Um obviously all it was was a big part To that Because as you said you went to see my Games you know that sometimes The manager has to see the players in Person and obviously he saw me Moaning a lot in that game because of Games against puerto rin and a lot Against their players against the

Referees against everyone so Against everyone that is against me not Not with me So he saw that personality so that kid That leaves the game is passionate for That and i think was that that makes me Makes him sign me for the club because He said that in the first day he said Just be yourself because I know what you're capable to do on the Ball But i want to you to be the leader that You have been at sporting from the first Day you said that to me that's that's Why i'm being The same bruno as always at sporting Uh because all i brought A player that he wants to to be the same Straight away and And that's what i did and i think also Ollie Has said previously that he spoke with Cristiano To to see maybe because i think he'd Played together obviously with portugal And he would have seen a lot more of the Portuguese league maybe At the time So you also had a pretty good Recommendation from the history of United at the time Yeah of course he said that to me and Obviously when i went to the national Team i said i said thank you cristiano

For the for the words that you have Given to me from myself Uh to the to the manager and from to the Club And uh Obviously when you have someone like Cristiano saying good words about you Makes the club think that it could be a Good choice and obviously i was really Happy that he He did that and he said that because as I said many times he was My idol growing up Probably my first um The player that i followed the most so Uh Was was really important for me to have That kind of recommendations Also because you know when you come from The portuguese league is always someone Asking in doubt if if they will be Uh Ready for the premier league or not do You care when you know what you're Saying there'll always be people Doubting questioning Do you notice Do you do you see things i knew it i was Ready so i don't i i really don't care About what people was Uh thinking or expecting i was i was Ready you know and Science day one i came I've heard people that say is every time

They They sign a new player They need one one year or two years To adopt in the premier league i'm I'm now Starting my Third full season I never i never had that time to adopt Because uh No one no one could say that i was I was not ready for the premier league Because i came and i was ready and i did Everything And Every time that i had a bad game in the First few months No one ever talked about now i still Adapt to the premier league no and That's good for me because I like that people Expect A lot from me and demand from me and uh And talk bad things about me because That makes me feel like and i came Almost at the same time as Nicolas pepe And at that time he was really good he Came when he came on to the arsenal team Was really good and he had some bad Games and everyone was calling about uh Yes still to adapt and stuff but when Bruno was doing a having a bad game was Just because he was moaning or because He was not focused on the game

And for me that was good because they Knew that i was ready so they could feel It and that's why it was demanding from Me