Ghana's No. 1

Bruno Fernandes explains how he wound Eric Bailly up in Manchester United training

Published on: 03 October 2022

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has revealed that he used to target Eric Bailly and other 'big players' in training to ensure that he would not be bullied in matches.

Fernandes has established himself as a fan-favourite at Old Trafford since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon in 2020, with the Portuguese international making 135 appearances for the club, registering 51 goals and 40 assists. The 28-year-old has also captained United on a number occasions since joining the club, with Erik ten Hag giving him the armband this season with Harry Maguire dropped to the bench.

The attacking midfielder endured a difficult campaign last term, but has been impressive in a red shirt so far this season. He played a vital role in United's much-improved form after Ten Hag's men lost their opening two matches against Brighton and Brentford, although he was poor in the recent 6-3 derby loss to City.

Fernandes has since opened up on some of the unorthodox training methods he has adopted since joining United more than two years ago, which included annoying Ivorian defender Bailly prior to the centre-back loan switch to Ligue 1 outfit Marseille in the summer transfer window.

Speaking on Soccer AM prior to the Manchester derby defeat on Sunday, Fernandes said: "I like to mess with the big ones so you get used to being bullied in the games. One of the ones I would always mess about with was Eric Bailly. Always in training, I would play as a 10 and he would play as a centre-back and he has to jump on me. I was always playing one-touch. He kicked me so many times and every time that I pass the ball to do a one-two he would always put me on the ground.

"He said 'Every time you get the ball, the first touch, I have to put you on the ground or you will run away from me'. Even on the training ground, I would know he is coming and instead of moving backwards, I would run forward so he can't kick me. Sometimes even when he was on the ball and would pass it I would kick him and put him on the ground.

"It's the way that the mood - and it depends on the results, if the results are better it's always easier to joke about because when you are not in the mood, even in training sessions, joking like this, kicking someone, can be seen in a different way."

Bailly made the move to France after featuring just seven times in all competitions for United last term. His time with Marseille started promisingly, but the 28-year-old has since struggled with a thigh injury in recent weeks and has only made five appearances.


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