BRUNO FERNANDES has revealed one of the secrets behind his uncanny ability to find space on the pitch – he marks the ref.
The Manchester United playmaker says his playing style involves finding "dead zones" – which are often the areas occupied by the match official.
Fernandes, 28, told The Athletic: "I call these the ‘referee zone' as nobody marks the referee.
"Sometimes, this is what the coaches say to players who play between the lines, or the wingers who want to come inside, or the striker when he wants to drop.
"Of course, sometimes the positions are different because it can be a counter-attack, for example.
“It also depends on the way an official referees the game. Mike Dean, for example, ran very centrally, which was probably for him better to see the game.
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"But for us as a No 10, that cannot be our position, so you have to find out where you can go.”
The Portugal star also admitted a dismal opening-day 2-1 home defeat to Brighton reignited the feeling of disappointment they regularly felt at Old Trafford last season.
It was a campaign in which club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked as manager during another trophyless campaign in which United laboured to a sixth-place Prem finish.
Fernandes said: "You could feel it between us, between the fans, in the atmosphere, that it was like getting back to the past.
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“Everyone felt the confidence was low again. Everyone was a little — not afraid — but not feeling the best to take the ball. I felt sometimes like it was the ghosts from the past."
Four straight league wins quickly allayed fears of more sustained misery under new boss Erik ten Hag, and Fernandes has predictably been central to the upturn in fortunes.
So it was interesting to hear the former Sporting Lisbon star admit he was left fuming when a move to Tottenham fell through ahead of his switch to the Red Devils in 2020.
Fernandes told the Athletic: "The [Sporting] president spoke with me but he spoke with me on the wrong day – it was the day after they decided to refuse the offer from Tottenham and I was really angry."
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