Bruno Fernandes has been a sensational signing for Manchester United following his arrival from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020.
In 62 appearances, the Portuguese midfielder has been directly involved in 54 goals (34 goals plus 20 assists).
It’s often been said over the past 14 months that Fernandes has transformed United and it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Prior to his arrival, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were struggling badly.
Fernandes has already won the Premier League’s Player of the Month award four times. Legends including Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Alan Shearer won the individual accolade the same number of times during their illustrious careers.
Only Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Harry Kane, Steven Gerrard and Sergio Aguero (the leader with seven) have won it more times.
Despite all of that, Fernandes has come under fire this season for failing to perform against the so-called ‘Big Six’ teams.
He flattered to deceive during last weekend’s 0-0 draw against Chelsea and has now managed to score just one goal in seven games against the ‘Big Six’ this season - and that was a penalty in a 6-1 defeat against Tottenham. The 26-year-old has also failed to register a single assist during those matches.
Ahead of Sunday’s clash against Manchester City, Fernandes responded to critics who say he doesn’t perform against the Premier League’s top sides.
"I don't know what people mean by 'top six', because the teams are in top six in the table," he told Sky Sports, per the Manchester Evening News. "I score and assist against some of them. I score this season against Tottenham, but people say penalties don't count. So the game against Tottenham doesn’t finish 6-1 but 6-0.
"I know people expect Bruno to score or assist in every game because when I arrived, I was playing really well. And I want to do that - it's the most important thing.
“But as a player, I don't look for the big six or the rest of the league. I look for every game in the same way. And I think the league is not a sprint, it's a marathon. So you don't have to score or win against the big six - you have to score and win against everyone.
"I see people talking about Bruno not doing so well against the 'big six'. People have said Bruno gives the ball away too many times when we lose a game.
"Also, in the game against Basaksehir, I scored two goals and I lost more balls than their team, but people said I was the best player in the game. So, what is the point?
"But I agree the last two games, I didn't play very well. And I don't need to see the stats to see if I play well or not. I know when I play well or not.
"I saw an interview from Luke (Shaw) saying, 'people now care more about stats than the performance'. And this is the truth. Because now they're expecting from me just goals and assists, and not performances.
"They don't care about the performance of Bruno, they don't care about ball recovery or how many chances I create, because I can create 10 chances but if I don't score, people will say Bruno didn't play very well.
"But this is football. Football is in the moment. Some people have said I'm playing bad, and that I have to do better. And I agree, because we always can do better. But for me, it's OK. I can have that pressure on my back.
"I'm sure in some moments, I will score, I will assist, and I will perform. And that will help my team-mates to win the game."
Watch a snippet from Bruno’s interview here…
However, Fernandes will be acutely aware of the comments from rival fans if he fails to produce the goods against Pep Guardiola’s side this weekend.
On the other hand, a match-winning display at the Etihad Stadium would be the perfect way to immediately silence all of his critics.