Manchester United "depend too much" on Bruno Fernandes, according to ex-Sporting boss Carlos Carvalhal, who says the Red Devils must raise their game as a "collective".
Fernandes has been a talismanic performer for the Red Devils since joining the club from Sporting for €55 million (£47m/$66m) in January 2019.
The 26-year-old's individual brilliance has often dragged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side over the finishing line in matches, with Carvalhal of the opinion that they are still a team lacking cohesion across the rest of the pitch.
What's been said?
“I think it’s not good in any team in the world if you depend too much on one player, so this is not good of course,” the current Braga manager, who coached Sporting in 2009-10, told talkSPORT.
“The best thing would be for the team to work together as a collective, because Manchester United have a lot of players who can be a threat, not just Fernandes.
“When a team depends too much on one player it can be very difficult to achieve something, because opponents find a way to block that player, sometimes the player can get injured or suspended, so you can’t depend on one player.
“Football is a collective game, it’s about 11 players. And while it’s important to have individual players to win a game, you need all the players.
“If you don’t depend so much on one player, and every player makes a difference, you can beat any team.”
Fernandes' impact on United's 2020-21 campaign
Fernandes instantly adapted to his new surroundings in Manchester after leaving Portugal last year, and ended up inspiring United's run to a third-place Premier League finish.
The playmaker has taken his game to even greater heights this term, contributing 22 goals and 13 assists to the club's cause in 40 appearances across all competitions.
His influence in the final third has helped the Red Devils rise to third in the top flight once again and reach the latter stages of both the FA Cup and Europa League.
Fernandes is being touted as the favourite to win this year's PFA Player of the Year award after an outstanding first full season at Old Trafford, which supporters will be hoping ends with United lifting their first major trophy since 2017.
The bigger picture
United's title challenge has already fallen off the rails, and they will slip into the battle for Champions League qualification if they can't pick up a positive result against leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
Solskjaer's men are winless in their seven matches against the 'Big Six' so far, and Fernandes is still looking for his first goal from open play in a top-of-the-table fixture.
The Red Devils tend to struggle when the Portuguese is off his game, as Carvalhal alluded to, and that trend will have to change in order for the club to achieve tangible success come May.