Graeme Souness has launched an extraordinary attack on Manchester United duo Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane, while claiming Cristiano Ronaldo shouldn’t play every game.
The trio are regarded as three of United’s star players, having impressed since making their respective moves to Old Trafford. Fernandes in particular drew regular praise for his performances after joining from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020.
While the Portugal international was United’s standout during his first 18 months at the club, he has struggled more this season. The 27-year-old has scored just nine goals so far this season, having tallied 28 in all competitions last year.
Fernandes’ drop in form has been one of the factors in what has been a poor season for United. And Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit Souness has believes the midfielder is too petulant to become a top player.
Writing in his column for The Times, Souness said: “Ten Hag is walking into an absolute disaster. On the pitch, it has been a car crash of a club in the decade since [Sir Alex Ferguson] left.
“That’s down to consistently terrible football decisions. Whoever made them has not been a football person.
“Not one big-name signing since Fergie left has been an unqualified success. Bruno Fernandes comes closest, but he’s had one good season and one indifferent one. To be a top player he has to cut out the petulance he shows towards his team-mates.”
Souness also took aim at Ronaldo and Varane. Despite being the club’s top scorer this season, the former has faced questions over his suitability for modern football, while the latter has impressed since joining from Real Madrid, albeit while suffering from a number of injury problems.
He continued: “Cristiano Ronaldo has a claim to be the best player ever, but is showing signs of being a frustrated figure coming to the end of playing at the highest level. Before he signed, I’d have made it clear he would not play every game but would have wanted him to be an example to everyone in the dressing room.
“It looks like he’s finding it hard to get that message across because of how the modern game has evolved and he can’t make the impression he wants any more.
“Critics often focus on Harry Maguire among United’s centre-backs but in Raphael Varane, I don’t see the same player he was five years ago, bringing me back to what the great Jock Stein said: ‘Never judge a player on memory.’
“Real Madrid tend not to let top players leave. A good example of that is Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.”