MANCHESTER UNITED

Fernandes says people expect Messi and Ronaldo-like performances from Pogba

Paul Pogba will benefit from Manchester United's renewed confidence, team-mate Bruno Fernandes believes.

Bruno Fernandes defends Pogba: Critics have forgotten how good he is

Bruno Fernandes believes Paul Pogba's critics have forgotten how talented the World Cup winner is and cannot wait to play alongside him at Manchester United.

Pogba has often found himself the subject of scorn since returning to Old Trafford in a near-£90 million deal from Juventus in August 2016 having mixed brilliant performances with games of indifference.

Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness has been a particularly vocal critic and has been involved in a back-and-forth war of words with Pogba this week.

But Fernandes, who has made a flying start to his own United career since joining from Sporting CP in January, thinks Pogba will benefit from the Red Devils' growing confidence when football resumes once the suspension of the Premier League due to the coronavirus pandemic is lifted.

"[I'm looking forward to playing with him] a lot. I think we have a lot of good players in midfield," Fernandes said in a Q&A with United's website about Pogba, who has not played since Boxing Day due to an ankle injury.

"Obviously Paul is injured from a long time [ago], and all we know is he has a lot of qualities.

"We can say in football that people normally forget what you do good when you have a mistake. You can do good for 34 games, and one game you do bad and everyone will remember that.

"Paul is coming from a bad moment, because of the situation. When he played also, the club and the team was not good, because the expectations are high for Paul, because Paul is a top player and Manchester United pay a lot for him, and expectations are a lot for him.

"It's normal when you are in that situation you don't play like a superstar, because everyone expects from Paul like they expect from [Cristiano] Ronaldo at Juventus or [Lionel] Messi at Barcelona.

"Everyone expects this from Paul in Manchester, because they know he has the qualities for this. Also, this is confidence in Paul. The team, we have a lot of confidence in Paul.

Fernandes confident Pogba can bring something to United

"More than expectations, I'm confident what Paul can give to us, to the team. I think he has a lot to give, he has a lot of quality, and I think with the positive energy in the club – because we won a lot of games and we are in a good moment – everyone, the supporters and everything, will be more patient with Paul maybe.

"I feel sometimes when things go wrong, the patience is less, you know? It's normal, because the fans want to win. Football is about winning; it's not about playing.

"But the confidence now in the team is bigger. So, I think Paul, when he comes back, he will feel this and will give more for the next months and the next games."

Fernandes, who registered three goals and four assists in just nine United appearances prior to football being halted, has yet to play with Pogba but did come up against the France international for former club Udinese when his now team-mate was at Juventus.

"I know Paul from Juve, because I played against him in Italy. And believe me, it's really hard to play against Paul," he added.

"Because I play in midfield, I mark him. We play in the same line, so it's really difficult to play against Paul, because he has power, he has technique.

"It's difficult to find a player like Paul: big, strong and technical. It's difficult to find a player like this, and he has a lot of qualities. I hope he comes [back] soon."