Bruno Fernandes’ stunning start to life at Manchester United has just papered over the cracks at Old Trafford, claims former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley. Fernandes scored two goals and assisted three in his first five Premier League appearances before football was suspended last month due to the coronavirus. The £46.6million January signing helped United extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 matches.
United sit fifth in the Premier League table, are in the quarter-final of the FA Cup and are 5-0 up after the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against LASK.
Burley admits United are better to watch than they were last season but says there was no guarantee their fine form would have continued if football had not been halted in March.
And he believes there are still other issues manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to resolve.
“You’re asking me a question of whether United are better to watch [than last season] from an extremely low bar,” Burley said on ESPN FC.
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“Yeah, they’re better to watch than they were, but they still potentially could finish outside the top six or seven, potentially.
“If this league was to kick on again they could potentially finish outside the top six or seven.
“Just because they got a spark when the new signing came in doesn’t mean Sheffield United weren’t going to finish above them, or Tottenham, or Chelsea, or Wolves, or anybody else for that matter.
“We know they’re not going to finish above Manchester City, we know they’re not going to finish above Liverpool, we know they’re probably not going to finish above Leicester.
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“But these teams could theoretically finish above Man United.
“I think the short-term bounce that Solskjaer got from the Fernandes signing is slightly masking over things in the long term for me.”
Meanwhile, former United midfielder Paul Ince reckons Alexis Sanchez could return a different player next season.
Sanchez has spent this term on loan at Inter Milan but a permanent move to the San Siro is unlikely.
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“I wouldn’t rule out Sanchez going back to United and being a key part of their team next season,” Ince told Paddy Power.
“Football is a funny old game. I’ve been in the situation as a manager where I’ve thought, ‘right, I’m going to get rid of him and him’ – but when it comes to it you can’t get the deal done, so they stay at the club.
“Then pre-season comes around and they’re a totally different player to the season before, and they’re your key man the next season.”
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