The optimism and momentum generated by United’s fine form at the end of last season was well and truly punctured following Jose Mourinho’s triumphant return to Old Trafford and not even a late transfer window trolley dash has done much to lift the mood.
According to The Athletic, Fernandes was among the most vocal United players in the dressing room at half-time last Sunday. United were trailing 4-1 at the time and had been reduced to 10 men following the controversial dismissal of Anthony Martial.
United capitulated after the France international was handed a red card for lashing out at Erik Lamela, but Fernandes’s display of passion away from the cameras did little to dissuade Solskjaer from taking the decision to hook his most creative player.
The Athletic add that Solskjaer’s decision was a largely tactical one, given he felt he needed more legs in midfield, although the introduction of Fred and Scott McTominay ultimately did little to stem the tide.
Solskjaer was also said to feel that with Fernandes facing the prospect of three games in the space of a week with Portugal, it was the correct course of action to withdraw him from the fray at the expense of risking injury or the former Sporting Lisbon star losing his temper.
Paul Pogba, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes, much to the astonishment of former Chelsea midfielder and ESPN pundit Craig Burley who could not understand Solskjaer’s decision.
He said: ‘The decision to play Paul Pogba and keep Pogba on the field when they were down to 10 and play him on the left in a position where one of the laziest players in your squad is going to have to track back more often than most because he’s playing out wide is just incredible.’
Asked about the prospect of a move to the Spanish side, with whom he has been linked on a number of occasions, he replied: ‘All football players would love to play for Real Madrid. It is a dream for me, why not one day?
‘I am in Manchester and I love my club. I am playing in Manchester, I’m having fun and I want to do everything to put the club where it deserves.
‘I will give everything to the max, like my team-mates.’