Bruno Fernandes & Diogo Dalot laud Man Utd squad depth

Manchester United’s Portuguese duo Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes both stressed that the team is ‘not just 11 players’ after a comprehensive victory over relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon.

Dalot scored the first Premier League goal of his career in the second half, belatedly finishing off one of numerous chances which United created at the City Ground. Antony teed up United’s fullback with a razor-sharp reverse pass after opening the scoring in the 32nd minute.

However, despite Antony’s direct contribution, Fernandes claimed the official Player of the Match award after a dominant midfield display. United’s number eight was shunted into a more advanced role barely half an hour before kick-off as Marcel Sabitzer picked up an injury during the warm-up.

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The Austrian international – fresh from scoring twice against Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday night – joined a long list of absentees for Erik ten Hag to juggle. Top scorer Marcus Rashford and first-choice centre-backs Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were part of the over-populated injured cabal but Dalot and Fernandes were keen to emphasise the collective on Sunday.

“Inside the dressing room I think we were calm,” Dalot reflected to Sky Sports when the severity of Sabitzer’s injury became apparent. “We knew through this season that we’re not only just 11 players, we’ve shown this in the past this season. Today was one more game. Players get injured, this is football. But everybody was ready and today I think we showed that we are a proper squad and we are very happy with the game.”

Fernandes underlined the point made by his compatriot, praising the performance of Sabitzer’s late replacement, Christian Eriksen. “The most important thing is that who replaces him does a good job, that was Christian,” Fernandes said.

“We are not just 11 players, so everyone has to be ready, these things can happen. We are one of the teams where the subs have the most impact in games – if not the one with the most impact, with goals and assists or even, during the game, giving some fresh legs to the team – so everyone was ready.”

United’s scorers on Sunday both started the game but Fernandes was right in his hunch. Ten Hag’s substitutions this season have combined to score ten Premier League goals, the most of any manager in the division.

Ten Hag echoed the sentiment of his players, almost word-for-word, a little eerily. “We have more than 11 players,” he told Sky Sports in a separate interview, “and you wouldn’t say bringing in Christian Eriksen is a disadvantage. He played a brilliant game.”


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