Why Manchester United may be open to selling captain Bruno Fernandes as INEOS stance clear

“Sometimes I go over the line,” Bruno Fernandes admitted last year when speaking about his on-field gesticulations.

“It can happen in the game and it is difficult to control emotions. But I never try to be disrespectful with anyone. We are all competitive and we all want to win.

“If I see someone on the pitch and I’m trying to say something to them, it’s because I believe they can do better. Sometimes I can even be giving credit to them but in the television you can’t see that. You see the waving of the arms, but that doesn’t mean that you’re moaning at someone.”

To many, the Manchester United captain’s hand-throwing habits cast negative body language which can emanate to teammates and in turn into the stands.

There is no doubt that the midfielder is United’s best player. He leads both the club goals (15) and assists (11) charts this season and United have struggled without him in their last two matches.

It’s a common view among analysts that the playmaker can be world-class but that his chirping at the referee or huffs when things go wrong do not necessarily indicate captain material – not that there is much alternative.

It must be said that Fernandes is the first to make sure his teammates get the applause when they deserve it and is always quick to credit those in the squad who are doing well, while also being unafraid to underline when the team has not performed.

But there is a justifiable question of whether, in the long-run, these assets ultimately outweigh the negative posture he sometimes poses in a game when backs are against the wall.

INEOS sporting chief Sir Dave Brailsford, completing an audit of United for Sir Jim Ratcliffe, was known for his ‘marginal gains’ thesis that reaped so much success at British Cycling.

The theory says that improving one per cent of each facet of an entity, when married together, can produce significant progression. Notably, the reverse can happen when one per cent is lost in every area.

Speaking on the ‘Secrets of Success’ documentary from Sky Sports, Brailsford said: “You could be doing all these winning behaviours, but just one or two of these losing behaviours, and it outweighed all these winning behaviours.

“Moaning, for example. If I moan about everything and every time I come in it’s ‘Same old, same old, this that and the other’ – moaning is very much a losing behaviour.

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