Bruno Fernandes has said he does not care about people calling him a penalty merchant as the Manchester United star continues to score plenty of goals from the spot.
The Portuguese has had a transformative impact at Old Trafford since signing from Sporting CP a year ago. In that time he has established himself as the standout player in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad and continues to break records with his goals and assists.
Fernandes already has 15 goals and nine assists in all competitions this season, but critics have pointed to the fact that seven of his goals have been penalties, and that he has scored 15 penalties in 48 appearances. But the playmaker does not bother himself with the criticism that has come his and United’s way when it comes to getting spot-kicks.
“I don’t hear them! I don’t care, honestly. You always see what people say but I really don’t care. I’m not focused on what they are saying,” Fernandes said. “I played in Portugal and when you play for Sporting, Benfica and Porto are always talking about that kind of stuff - sometimes to put pressure on the referee, sometimes just to make some noise in the press.
"But, for me, the main point is when we have a penalty, if I go to take the ball to the penalty spot, I have to do my job.
"One thing I saw in the news the other day was that Raheem Sterling has missed his last three penalties. So, yes, it shows it’s not as easy to take a penalty as people say. You have to work on that, you have to be focused, you have to do your job.
"It does not mean Raheem Sterling is not a good penalty taker because he missed three in a row. It can happen. It could maybe happen to me but the important thing is to score and not to listen to what people say because penalties are part of the game for everyone.”
Fernandes has certainly made an impact in the 11 months since he made his debut having picked up four Premier League player of the month awards in that time, but the Portugal international believes he has more to give, which may be bad news for United’s rivals.
“You can be better every day. If not, I will not come to training every day. I will just come on Sunday and play the game. I come, I enjoy my time, I try to learn, I try to give my best in every training session to be better, to improve, and I will keep doing that,” Fernandes explained.
“I will never stop improving until I stop my career because I think every day you can improve, every day you can do something new, and every day you can do something better.”
Fernandes and his team-mates will be looking to improve on United’s recent record at Anfield in Sunday's showdown against Liverpool. They have not won there in the league since 2016 and although they go into Sunday’s game three points ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side at the top of the table, the hosts will still be the favourites having not lost a league game at Anfield since April 2017.
“I’ll go there to try to beat them, of course. I want to win the game," Fernandes said. "We know Liverpool are a really good team and haven’t lost a home league game in so many years but we’ll go there to do our best and try to win the game as we always do."
And while some believe more pressure will be on Liverpool due their status as champions, Fernandes has insisted that his side will go into the match with plenty of pressure on as well.
“I feel the pressure every day I come to train at United,” the 26-year-old said. “You have to put pressure on yourself. I think Liverpool being champions, they know what they have to do, they know what it is to have pressure on them. But we have to focus on what we have to do because we have a lot of pressure [on us].
"Everyone knows, playing for Manchester United means playing with the pressure on but this is what you want as a player. If you don’t have pressure on you, it’s because you’re not doing the right things.
"For us, for growing up, we have to go into these games to try to win.”