Bruno Fernandes’ start at Manchester United has shocked Nemanja Matic, who did not expect the Portugal international to adapt to life at Old Trafford so quickly.
United are unbeaten in 18 games across all competitions having been boosted by the arrival of Fernandes from Sporting CP in January after a lengthy transfer saga.
The midfielder has more than lived up to the hype, scoring seven goals and adding a further seven assists in just 11 Premier League outings.
Fernandes was short of his brilliant best in Monday’s dramatic 2-2 home draw with Southampton, but still laid on an assist for Anthony Martial.
His immediate importance to United has been acknowledged by midfield colleague Matic, who knew United were getting a capable player from the Primeira Liga, but did not expect him to shine so quickly.
“Obviously he is a player with a lot of quality,” Matic said to Stats Perform News.
“I have to say that he was the best player in Sporting Lisbon, one of the biggest Portuguese clubs.
“To play and be the best player of Sporting is not easy, because there is a lot of pressure on you, there is a big expectation from the supporters to play for that club.
“I know because I played for Benfica, so the pressure is high and when you play on that level there then you are ready for the Premier League.
“I didn’t expect him to adapt that quick, I knew that he will be good for us but he adapted from the first minute that he stepped on the pitch – he was great.
“I like him because he wants to take responsibility, he always looks to receive the ball, he always finds good space to receive the ball and to hurt the opponent. It is always good to play with him.”
Matic continued: “If we take risks from the back and lose the ball we are in trouble, for him and in his position he needs to take the risks because we bought him because of that.
“He is doing well, he takes the risk and it is very important that when he takes the risk 50 per cent of the time he is successful.
“He is a player with quality, and of course when he takes a risk I am not afraid that he is going to do bad, most of the time he is going to do it correctly.”
While Fernandes has impressed Matic, he stressed the whole team deserved credit for United’s impressive revival under Ole Gunnnar Solskjaer this season.
“If I mention him then I have to say the rest of the squad is also great,” added Matic, who signed a new contract with United this month.
“At the moment everyone is playing well, everyone is ready and the games we played these last few months is teamwork.
“I think everyone on the pitch is doing great. Everyone on the pitch knows their job, so hopefully we can continue like that.”