By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Bruno Fernandes has been delighted by Alejandro Garnacho’s progress but warned the Manchester United teenager that he cannot relax if he is going to fulfil his potential.
A year and two days after his starring role in the club’s FA Cup Youth Cup triumph against Nottingham Forest, the 18-year-old was once again in goalscoring form at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Garnacho had been out for two months with an ankle injury and he returned with a bang against Wolves, with the substitute scoring a fine, late goal in front of the Stretford End to wrap up a 2-0 win.
A special message from the scorer of our 100th goal in 2022/23: @AGarnacho7! 🤳@TeamViewer ↔️ #BringingYouCloser pic.twitter.com/HIG9xoc3u8
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 13, 2023
Skipper Fernandes threaded through the Argentinian to score and hopes the nascent talent can “score much more until the end of the season.”
“Obviously, we know Garna can change games,” the Portugal midfielder said. “He plays with pace, he can take players one against one.
“But he’s still developing himself, so we don’t have to go and push so much to him because he’s still a young kid.
“He can do great things, but in the future he has to do much better than actually he is doing because he has more than the capability to be even better than he is actually (right now).
“He’s been doing amazing for the first season he’s been playing in the Premier League, with more minutes, with more consistency. He’s doing great, but we all know he can do much more for us.”
Garnacho recently signed a new deal keeping him at Old Trafford until 2028 after impressing in his first full season as a first-team player.
He has also won around Erik ten Hag having irked him during pre-season, with Fernandes claiming he “didn’t have the best attitude” during that period.
“That message was from the manager, it was not from me,” Fernandes said. “I just heard what the manager said.
“What I have to say to Garnacho, I tell him at the training ground, whenever we are eating, on the training ground or wherever.
“If he wants to hear, he hears. If not, he doesn’t but I try to help.
“I think he did an interview talking about me trying to help him a lot of times, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“But, obviously, as I said, he’s still young, and I don’t want to give too much compliments because you know when you’re young, you get too many compliments, you can get a little bit relaxed and everything.
“We need this Alejandro coming on and making goals, making assists, getting back to recover balls – everything.
“But I think if he wasn’t doing what he needed to do, he wouldn’t be playing.
“At the beginning of the season, the manager didn’t give him any chances because he thought that he wasn’t being the best, and now he’s getting his chances.
“He’s been playing a lot this season because he’s training well, he’s doing what he has to do and he’s getting his rewards – and the team are getting the rewards as well, and that’s the most important thing.”
Garnacho’s adaptation from youth football to the top end has also impressed Fernandes, saying his team-mate is reaping the rewards of his hard work.
“I think he’s doing very well and he’s training every time with us, so that makes him be more prepared for the games,” he said. “But mentally he’s being much better also because I think he understood what it takes to be a professional player.
“He is doing that, taking that and he is working a lot also in the gym with the coaches, so he is getting his rewards.
“He’s getting his rewards because he is training well because if he wasn’t he is not even playing I’m pretty sure.”
A step in the right direction! Proud that I could lead my children out at Old Trafford ❤️🔴 pic.twitter.com/dcBX70YZli
— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) May 13, 2023
Garnacho’s return is a welcome boost for United with three Premier League games left in the race for the top four before the FA Cup final against Manchester City.
“We know it will be tough to get the top four but it depends on ourselves and everything is in our hands so we have to do our job,” Fernandes added.
“I’m not worried about Liverpool – I’m worried about us doing our job because it’s about ourselves.
“Like I said, if we do our job properly, if we win our games, we will be in the Champions League so we don’t need to look at the table or look at other teams.”