Bruno Fernandes: Criticism of Man Utd midfielder ‘pathetic’ says Reds boss Erik ten Hag

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has accused Nottingham Forest of targeting Bruno Fernandes in their FA Cup fifth-round tie and called his captain’s critics “pathetic”.

Fernandes sent over the free-kick that Brazilian midfielder Casemiro headed home for the visitors’ 89th-minute winner to set up a home quarter-final with Liverpool.

The Portugal international was heavily criticised on social media after Saturday’s home defeat by Fulham where he stayed down after a challenge by Sasa Lukic, despite minimal contact, and then jumped up to play a part in an attack.

“You saw that Forest were targeting him,” said Ten Hag. “There were many fouls on him and you see when he is getting the ball, they are really tight on him.”

The 29-year-old appeared to be limping as he left The City Ground and Ten Hag feels the criticism of Fernandes’ perceived play-acting is unfair.

“I see social media criticising him,” added Ten Hag. “It is pathetic. He had a serious injury but he continued to play on Saturday and then also he fought to be part of this game.

“He has a very high pain threshold and last year, he did something similar against Spurs and I think in the semi-final (against Brighton). It shows his leadership.”

Ten Hag refused to say what the injury was, although against Fulham, Fernandes appeared to hurt his ankle.

Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo denied his team had singled out Fernandes, who was awarded one foul, for special treatment.

“I don’t think so,” said Nuno, when asked if his team had targeted Fernandes. “I didn’t see what Erik saw.

“He (Fernandes) is a very good player. He needs to be controlled. We did that in a fair way.”

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