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Manchester City logo
FA Cup | Final
May 25, 2024 at 3pm UK
Wembley Stadium
Manchester United logo

Man City
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Man Utd

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'His influence is outstanding' - Pep Guardiola talks up Manchester United star ahead of FA Cup final

'His influence is outstanding' - Guardiola talks up Man Utd star ahead of FA Cup final
© Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola talks up the 'outstanding influence' of one of Manchester United's star players ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has talked up the 'outstanding influence' of Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

The Portuguese playmaker has contributed to more goals (15 goals, 12 assists) than any other Red Devils player across all competitions this season and is one of the first names on the teamsheet for manager Erik ten Hag.

Fernandes has been a standout performer during the latter stages of what has been an underwhelming 2023-24 campaign for Man United, scoring eight goals and providing three assists in his last 11 matches across the Premier League and FA Cup.

The 29-year-old scored from the penalty spot as United suffered a 2-1 defeat to Man City in last season's FA Cup final, and he has since played every minute in all five FA Cup ties for the Red Devils this term en route to Saturday's showpiece, scoring three and assisting two.

Fernandes is expected to start either as a false nine - where he has operated in recent weeks with Rasmus Hojlund beginning on the bench - or in his favoured number 10 role, and Guardiola has acknowledged the threat that Man United's No.8 could pose to his City side at Wembley.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after the match on May 11, 2024© Reuters

Guardiola hails Fernandes influence

Discussing Man United's threat in forward positions at his press conference on Friday, Guardiola said: "They have actions from brilliant players up front, [Alejandro] Garnacho, [Marcus] Rashford, [Rasmus] Hojlund or of course Bruno Fernandes - when he has the ball, everything happens.

"Bruno's influence is outstanding. Unbelievable. Today saw a few games, the last games and I said: 'this guy's creativity is one of the best I've ever seen'.

"They have experience and everything. If I lost a lot of central defenders I'd be in trouble, this is the reality."

Guardiola's comments come just a few months after Fernandes labelled the Man City boss as "the best coach in the world, without a shadow of a doubt".

Manchester United attacker Bruno Fernandes on April 13, 2024© Reuters

Fernandes 'cares deeply' about Man United

Fernandes, who received the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for the third time in his Old Trafford career on Thursday, has spoken candidly in an open letter to Man United fans in The Players' Tribune ahead of the FA Cup final, encouraging every Red Devil to show their support one final time in 2023-24.

"I want to say a few words from the heart before this FA Cup final," said Fernandes. "I know that it has not been an easy season for you. We have not been up to the standard that you deserve. We have not always matched the support you've shown us.

"As the captain, I feel that more than anyone, and it is not a responsibility that I take for granted. This club is more than just something that I can put into a nice quote for social media. It is something that I care about deeply.

"After this difficult season, it is my responsibility to give more," he continued. "It starts with me. And it starts tomorrow. We have to give everything in this last match against City, and we have to move forward...we're on our way to Wembley. Get behind us one more time."

In the same open letter, Fernandes has also issued an update on his future amid recent reports linking the playmaker with Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr.

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag applauds the fans after the match on May 15, 2024
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