Manchester United’s stand-in captain Bruno Fernandes must work on controlling his emotions and channelling them in the right way, manager Erik ten Hag said on Friday.
Fernandes was heavily criticised for his performance and antics in the 7-0 humiliation at Anfield where United suffered its biggest defeat against any club in close to 100 years.
The Portuguese impressed against Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday, however, scoring and assisting in the 4-1 victory as United quickly shrugged off any lingering hangover from the rout at Anfield.
“I think he showed big personality by giving this performance on Thursday, leading the team, so it was brilliant,” Ten Hag told reporters ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against relegation-threatened Southampton.
“His emotion is his weapon but sometimes it’s too strong and, yes, of course, I help him, I support him and I give him feedback. Sometimes he has to show more to control emotions.
“He has to find the balance between when to use the right show as a tool and when to use emotion as a tool. That is the next step. It is a nice development point for him and when he does it, he will be an even better player.”
Ten Hag also had some positive news about injured midfielder Christian Eriksen, saying he will be back this season.
Eriksen suffered an ankle injury in late January and initial estimates said he could be missing until May.
“I think he will play, yeah, definitely,” Ten Hag said. “I can’t tell now an expectation, but I think his progress in the rehab is okay, is going according to plan.
“So we will definitely see him but not before the international break.”
United will be anxious to bounce back in the league against 19th-placed Southampton at Old Trafford, although Ten Hag said United will need to be ‘outstanding’ to do that.
“At the bottom, it’s very close, so they will be front foot, they will be aggressive, they will do everything they can do to collect points here,” the Dutchman said.
“So, we have to be 100% and give the best performance to beat them.”
United may have forward Anthony Martial back from a hip injury at the weekend, although Ten Hag will not rush him.
“He is on his way back, he’s back in training, but we will be cautious, yeah.”