Bruno Fernandes has heaped praise on Harry Maguire after the defender put a nightmare few weeks behind him with Manchester United’s opening goal in the side’s 4-1 victory over Newcastle.
The hosts drew first blood at St James’ Park as Emil Krafth’s cross deflected in off Luke Shaw in only the second minute of the Premier League clash.
Maguire levelled with a powerful header in the 23rd minute and Steve Bruce’s men looked set to come away from the game with a point before a flurry of late goals from Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka sealed all three points for the visitors.
Maguire, who has endured a difficult start to the season in the wake of his arrest in Greece, came under further scrutiny in midweek after he was sent off for a pair of reckless challenges in England’s Nations League defeat to Denmark.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he never considered dropping his captain for United’s trip to Newcastle and singled out the centre-back’s ‘inspirational performance’ in the south-east.
And Fernandes followed suit as he hailed United’s captain in his post-match interview with MUTV.
‘Of course we are happy for Harry,’ the Portugal international said.
‘Harry is a big player, he’s playing for one of the biggest teams in the world, he’s captain of one of the biggest teams in the world, he plays for a big national team so I think it’s bad being under fire but he has a great mentality and he needs to keep doing what he did today.
‘Not about the goal he scored because it’s not what he has to do – of course he has to do that for the corners then he can help us like he did today – but defending as he defended, playing at the back as he played and give us the chance up front to be secure when we lose the ball.
‘We know we have a great defence with him and the guys who played today and also the others who are on the bench at home.’
Fernandes revealed his frustrations with the constant transfer speculation over the last few months and said it was ‘easy’ for fans and pundits to make judgements on United’s current squad from the outside looking in.
‘Everyone’s talking about us needing a defender, we need a midfielder, we need a striker, we need a winger,’ the midfielder added.
‘It’s easy from the outside, talking and saying we need everything and don’t be on the pitch and sometimes I think we need to look for each other, help each and be positive as a team because we can defend ourselves here on the pitch, not here (interviews) or on social media for me.
‘I have no problems talking openly about things but for me the most important thing was the response we gave today on the pitch.’