Manchester United 3-2 Nottingham Forest: Erik ten Hag hails Bruno Fernandes’ performance in comeback win26 August 2023
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag hailed a captain's performance from Bruno Fernandes after the Portuguese kept his nerve to seal a 3-2 comeback win over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag backed Fernandes' leadership skills ahead of the game amid claims from some pundits, including Micah Richards, that the 28-year-old is too "emotional" to make a good captain.
The Dutchman was rewarded with an outstanding performance from his midfielder as United fought back to win despite trailing by two goals inside four minutes.
In an performance full of invention and creativity, Fernandes created the equaliser for Casemiro before driving home the match-winning penalty after Marcus Rashford had been fouled by Danilo.
"In all the aspects, he played a very good game at the highest level," said Ten Hag.
"He was keeping calm, with the emotions under control. He was brilliant in the attacking [play] and made the difference. I am very happy with his performance."
The victory was particularly notable given it was the first time United had fallen two behind in a game so quickly in the Premier League era.
Though clear questions can be raised about how they fell behind so meekly, criticism could be levelled at Forest for failing to take their chances whilst they were still in front, and doubt perhaps cast on the decision to award the home side their spot-kick, Ten Hag preferred to focus his post-match thoughts around his side's character.
"There is big spirit and energy," he said.
"We've seen this team can bounce back. If you have such a [poor] start, you need to get over it. It's not easy, but compliments to the team.
"We have the personality. In certain moments we can definitely improve, but in general this team has the character to bounce back all the time."
Thousands protests against Man Utd owners
Around 5,000 United fans stayed inside Old Trafford long after the final whistle to voice their protests against the club's owners.
The 1958 Group had called for supporters to voice their opposition to the Glazer family amid continued uncertainty over the timing and decision of the 'strategic review' that was launched in November.
Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS Group have both lodged bids to take control of United but neither camp has been told whether they have been successful.
This has led to fears the Glazers may opt to remain in control.
"They are entitled to have an opinion but you see also the fans and the team have a very strong bond," said Ten Hag.
"In my time here, that has got stronger and stronger and today we made it stronger because a magnificent comeback will help.
"We get big support from them away from home and at Old Trafford."
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