I wish I’d captained Man Utd, they certainly get preferential treatment from refs – but I worry about Bruno Fernandes

BEING captain of a Premier League team is a real badge of honour.

So being asked to skipper Manchester United — England’s most famous club — ought to be one of the biggest privileges that football has to offer.

GettyBruno Fernandes has been criticised by Troy Deeney[/caption]

Deeney believes Fernandes has tried to get himself sent off in the pastSteve Bell

It’s also an easier job to captain United than Watford, as I did for five years in the top flight, because United captains certainly get preferential treatment from referees — a free pass on certain things.

When I heard some of the things Wayne Rooney used to say to referees when he was wearing the United armband, I sure as hell knew that I wouldn’t have got away with them as Watford skipper!

As captain, you are asked to be the embodiment of your football club.

You are representing the best that they can offer.

But with Bruno Fernandes, I do not see that.

A captain comes into his own when the chips are down, when the team is struggling in a match, or stuck in a poor vein of form.

Yet on more than one occasion, if United are getting well beaten, I have genuinely thought that Fernandes looks as if he wants to get sent off.

It’s like if he shows “passion” — if he loses his head and is red-carded — it will show the supporters, show the world, just how much he cares.

That was the impression that he gave in last season’s humiliating 7-0 defeat away to Liverpool, when he escaped punishment for manhandling a linesman.

But for me that sort of thing is childish behaviour. It’s not how a captain shows leadership qualities.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in life, so I don’t want to be over-critical.
But I’m sure I never acted like that when captaining my team.

On Sunday, United travel across town to play the champions and I fear they could get a real hiding.

Not because they are playing particularly badly but because Manchester City are really starting to click, with Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne back to top form, as they proved in the FA Cup thrashing of Luton the other night.

United have injury problems in defence, too. At Forest the other night, they had Sofyan Amrabat playing left-back and he looked as slow as me!

I dread to think what City speed merchant Jeremy Doku might do against him if he plays.

Erik ten Hag does not need his skipper to lose his head at the Etihad but that is always a fear with Fernandes.

When I think of the best captains I played against — men like John Terry and Vincent Kompany — they had an aura, an in-built respect which meant when they spoke, world-class players in their team would know they had been spoken to and would react positively.

And you don’t have to be an old-school leader to be a good captain.
Martin Odegaard leads by example.

I know he is one of Arsenal’s best players and I know he is highly regarded by his team-mates as an excellent skipper.

I don’t think Fernandes commands that sort of respect.

I know he has been caught up in a spat about his feigning of injuries, which Fulham highlighted in a TikTok post after they won at Old Trafford last weekend.

I’m not sure that United should be troubling themselves getting embroiled in silly rows like that.

Fernandes does seem to throw himself about a fair bit — but there are many Premier League players who do the same and I don’t think the United man is the worst culprit.

But it is part of Bruno’s make-up and one of many reasons why I don’t think he is captaincy material.

Having said that, who at United is? Harry Maguire, maybe, but he has lost the captaincy and has been playing better on the whole since having that responsibility taken off his shoulders.

Casemiro would command respect but I don’t think his English is good enough for him to be captain.

I don’t believe Ten Hag will still be United’s manager next season.

I think he’s finished, whatever happens in the next three months, and when Dan Ashworth arrives from Newcastle as sporting director, he will want to make a change.

If I was a United player, I’d have liked hearing their new billionaire investor Sir Jim Ratcliffe talking about wanting to “knock Liverpool and City off their perch”.

I’d have liked the ambition and seen it as a challenge. I’d have wanted to be part of it. But I haven’t seen many of United’s players reacting in that way.

I’m expecting a massive shake-up of the playing staff at United this summer and Fernandes will be one of the players the club will want to keep — but an incoming manager will surely be looking to appoint a new captain.

The Portuguese is a very good player, if not a great one.

When I played against him, he wasn’t one of those opposition players that our manager would spend a matchday-minus-one analysis session instructing us on how to stop him.

If United made him available, I don’t see City or Liverpool or even Newcastle coming in for him.

But he is a fine creative player, with good set-piece delivery and the ability to shoot from range. His goals and assists stats are good.

Against Forest in the FA Cup on Wednesday, he proved the difference as United eked out a late 1-0 win.

Yet I don’t see him as a proper captain, who leads by words and example.

I don’t think he acts as that link between supporters and the team, as the best skippers tend to do.

Maybe he’ll prove me wrong in the Manchester derby and provide a true captain’s performance.

Or maybe he will get himself sent off.

back link building services=