Manchester United’s stand-in captain Bruno Fernandes must work on controlling his emotions and channelling them in the right way, manager Erik ten Hag said on Friday.
The Portuguese midfielder was heavily criticised for his performance and antics in the 7-0 humiliation at Liverpool last weekend when United suffered their biggest defeat against any club in close to 100 years.
However, he impressed against Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday, scoring and assisting in the 4-1 victory in the first leg of their last-16 tie as the Red Devils quickly shrugged off any lingering hangover from the rout at Anfield.
“I think he showed big personality by giving this performance on Thursday, leading the team, so it was brilliant,” ten Hag told reporters ahead of Sunday’s Premier League home clash against relegation-threatened Southampton.
“His emotion is his weapon but sometimes it’s too strong and, yes, of course I help him. I support him and I give him feedback. Sometimes he has control emotions.
“He has to find the balance when to use emotion as a tool. That is the next step. It is a nice development point for him and when he does it, he will be an even better player.”
Fernandes will be expected to lead the team again on Sunday as club captain Harry Maguire remains out of favour and is expected to depart in the summer, with the defender linked to Newcastle, West Ham and Paris Saint-Germain.
Following the win over Betis, United will be anxious to bounce back in the league against 19th-placed Southampton at Old Trafford, while ten Hag has warned his men against complacency.
“At the bottom it’s very close, so they will be front foot, they will be aggressive, they will do everything they can do to collect points here,” the Dutchman said.
“So, we have to be 100 per cent and give the best performance to beat them.”
United may have forward Anthony Martial back from a hip injury, although ten Hag will not rush him.
“He is on his way back, he’s back in training but we will be cautious,” he said.
The United boss also had some positive news about injured midfielder Christian Eriksen, saying he will be back this season.