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06th Sep 2022

Danny Murphy warns Man United about starting Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes together

Robert Redmond

Danny Murphy Man United

“That’s my belief.”

Danny Murphy has said that Manchester United will struggle against ‘top’ teams if they start Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

Eriksen and Fernandes have starred for the Red Devils in recent weeks, helping Erik ten Hag’s team recover from a dreadful start to the season to record four wins in a row. The pair were particularly impressive in the wins over Liverpool and Arsenal.

Yet, Murphy has said that the Man United duo are not ‘defensively minded’, and therefore they will be exposed against bigger teams.

Danny Murphy: Man United will struggle against ‘top’ teams with Bruno and Eriksen in midfield.

The former Liverpool midfielder conceded that he was wrong when he said Eriksen could not play in a deeper midfield position.

However, he then doubled down on his views and said that Ten Hag’s team will struggle in the big games with Fernandes and Eriksen in midfield. The pundit made this claim despite United beating top-four rivals Liverpool and Arsenal with both players in their team

“I think he’s proven me wrong with his contribution from a deeper area. He’s a wonderful passer of the ball, I’ve never disliked Eriksen and I’ve never, ever said that,” Murphy said on talkSPORT.

“He’s a super player technically, I just don’t think in any midfield you can have two players in a midfield three. I don’t think you can have two players who aren’t defensively minded and win anything. That’s my belief.

“You can talk about City when they’ve had the likes of Bernardo Silva and (Kevin) de Bruyne, but their work ethic and the defensive part of their game is better than the two I’ve just mentioned.”

Danny Murphy: Eriksen and Fernandes aren’t ‘defensively-minded.’

Murphy’s assertion that neither Man United midfielder is ‘defensively-minded’ doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. And his choice of comparison with Manchester City’s midfielders is unfortunate. The defensive output of Eriksen and Fernandes stands up when compared to the statistics of the Man City pair.

Bruno has averaged 12.3 pressures per game so far this season (FBref define a ‘pressure’ as when the player puts pressure on an opposition player who is receiving, carrying or releasing the ball). Eriksen has averaged 8.3 pressures per game.

Meanwhile, Bernardo Silva is averaging 9.76 pressures per game, and Kevin de Bruyne is averaging 8.27 pressures per game. Murphy, however, remains unconvinced by the Red Devils duo.

“Eriksen isn’t doing anything I didn’t think he could do,” the former England midfielder continued. “He sees all the pictures, he’s got two great feet, he can pass from anywhere.

“I am still convinced that if Eriksen and Fernandes play in the same team consistently against the top opposition, they’ll struggle to win anything.”

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