Manchester United came out 4-2 victors against their old enemies Leeds at Elland Road on Sunday.
It was a nervy affair after the home side levelled the game 2-2 with a two-minute salvo but United were able to wrestle control back of the game, with substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga scoring the winning goals.
Elanga’s goal, in particular, was impressive, but mainly due to the piece of skill that preceded it from Bruno Fernandes. With his back to goal, the Portuguese midfielder executed a wonderfully-placed flick which took the ball over the head of Pascal Struijk, who was then able to reclaim possession as he ran around the Leeds defender, claimed it and played it to the onrushing Swedish winger.
United fans will have wondered why the piece of skill seemed so familiar and that is because it is a trick that Paul Pogba famously pulls off to beat his marker on a fairly regular basis. It was actually on display against Adam Forshaw in the first half as Pogba dominated the midfield battle.
And it seems it did not go unnoticed by the Frenchman who was seen going up to Fernandes at full time and laughing with the Portuguese playmaker that he had stolen his move before the pair embraced in celebration.
The camaraderie between Fernandes and Pogba has been clear to see since the Frenchman returned from injury earlier this month and it has also shown on the football pitch as well.
The celebration between the two when United beat Brighton 2-0 at Old Trafford went viral on social media. Pogba took the free-kick quickly in the 97th minute with the away side overcommitted and Fernandes ran up the field and slotted the ball home past Robert Sanchez. Pogba was the first to greet a roaring Fernandes by the corner flag near the Stretford End and their embrace spoke volumes about their evolving partnership. That went up another notch at Leeds.
Many United fans were worried about the balance of the team having both Fernandes and Pogba in the same team but in Ralf Rangnick’s 4-3-3 formation, their roles as dual eights have given the side a level of creativity that had not been seen previously.
After what could be described as a career of ups and downs at United we might finally be seeing the best of Pogba in a United shirt before he possibly leaves in the summer and Fernandes is playing a huge role in that. If this blossoming relationship continues, Bruno may yet have a key role to play in the club convincing Pogba to stay beyond this season.
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The club need to do everything in their power to try and keep Pogba and give United’s manager the chance to build the team around him, Fernandes and a new defensive midfielder. Then, maybe, the planned rebuild at Old Trafford that most fans have been expecting won’t be as wholesale as most fans first feared.
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