Man Utd have another ‘Bryan Robson’ as referees put on red alert

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Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has been compared to Bryan Robson by a former FIFA official after the Portugal international admitted he liked to keep close to referees during matches. The midfielder has regularly moaned at officials over the past 12 months, much to the dismay of disgruntled supporters. However, he sees no issue with his behaviour on the pitch.

Fernandes has been a huge hit at United ever since joining from Sporting Lisbon back in the January transfer window of 2020, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was manager.

But he’s also forged a reputation for himself as a moaner, with the 28-year-old regularly sniping at referees.

Last week, Fernandes gave an interview to The Athletic where he defended his behaviour by saying: “It’s who I am.

“What you see on the pitch is the Bruno who is passionate for the game, who will not give anything away.

“I can even fight with somebody who is my friend away from the pitch. I play against Wolves and there are many Portuguese players (in the Molineux squad) but if I have to kick them, I will kick them. If I have to moan at them, I will.

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“I need that. I played many games where I was quiet, and nobody said anything about that.

“But I did not feel myself. I need it to feel alive. As for the part about moaning at referees. Honestly…

“I play for Man United, so I know all the cameras are on our players, but everyone in the Premier League does that.

And former FIFA official and Premier League referee Keith Hackett thinks Fernandes is like United legend Robson – while also calling on chiefs to be on guard.

“I’d be surprised if referees are not aware,” he told Football Insider.

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“That player is there for one thing, that is to undermine the referee’s authority, break down his concentration which can distract when there’s a challenge.

“It’s really important that the referee is aware of this.

“It does happen and it’s more frequent than people think.

“I go back to my time when Bryan Robson was a bit of a moaner. I wasn’t alone because we discussed it amongst referees and he moaned at everybody.

“He had the impression that being captain of the team meant he had the avenue to rattle the cage of referees. On some occasions, he was successful.

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“Referees at the elite level must be aware that managers do their homework.

“We can go back to the Don Revie era, he had a catalogue of the referee’s who were coming up to referee his teams.

“He knew how they managed challenges, how they dealt with dissent and understood their weaknesses.

“His team would work on that and it was all aimed at distraction.

“It goes on from there. Think of the antics of [Jose] Mourinho, [Jurgen] Klopp, [Antonio] Conte and others in the technical area.

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“Through the fourth official, they are trying to undermine the match officials, mainly on concentration.

“Referees have sports psychologists that talk about those things and concentration is a massive part of it.”

Fernandes will be hoping to feature when United lock horns with Manchester City on Saturday (2pm).

The Red Devils lost 2-0 at Old Trafford to their fierce rivals last term, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer manager at the time.

And they lost 4-1 at the Etihad, with Ralf Rangnick overseeing that contest.

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