The writing looked to be on the wall for the under-fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when Bernard fired the hosts into an early lead, but Fernandes dragged his side back into the contest with a superb header from Luke Shaw’s cross.
The Portugal international then, somewhat fortuitously, put his side ahead when his cross was missed by Marcus Rashford only for the ball to drift past Jordan Pickford and in off the far post.
United largely controlled the game thereafter and sealed three points when Fernandes resisted the temptation to shoot when well placed and instead opted to tee up Edinson Cavani for his first Premier League goal.
Cole was thoroughly impressed by Fernandes’ latest matchwinning contribution and was particularly taken by the former Sporting Lisbon captain’s headed opener which reminded him of his former team-mate Frank Lampard in his pomp.
He told BT Sport: ‘He got freed up. We looked at the formation before with Fred and McTominay allowing him space.
‘This (goal) is like Lampard in his prime the way he timed it. If you look at Luke Shaw he could have delivered it first time but he didn’t. He waits and waits and waits and Fernandes just reads it, gets in between the centre halves.
‘He’s got that instinct from midfield where he is always going to score goals because his timing is excellent and his finishing is top drawer as well.’
Former United striker Michael Owen, meanwhile, was equally impressed with Fernandes’ display but admitted Solskjaer’s team would be in desperate trouble without the inspirational midfielder.
‘He was the difference today. Would they have won that game without him? I couldn’t see anyone that really had a spark. [Anthony] Martial was quiet, [Juan] Mata was quiet, [Marcus] Rashford’s pace okay but Everton played quite deep.
‘They’re not in great shape at the moment but without him they would be in all kinds of bother and Solskjaer will be delighted that he’s part of his team and he can rely on him both on and off the pitch. If they had more players like that they would be further up the league.’