By David Charlesworth, PA
Bruno Fernandes called for Manchester United to raise their standards after a disappointing 1-1 draw against Leicester.
United’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top-four were dealt a setback at Old Trafford on Saturday although Fred struck to rescue a point after Kelechi Iheanacho had given Leicester the lead.
The Foxes might have walked away with all three points but the video assistant referee chalked off James Maddison’s strike 10 minutes before full-time because of a foul in the build-up to the ‘goal’.
United, though, were uninspiring without Cristiano Ronaldo, sidelined due to illness, with his fellow Portuguese Fernandes withering in his critique of their display as he called for sharp improvements.
“Everyone is disappointed,” he told MUTV. “This result was not the result that we want but there is nothing we can do now.
“We have to look ahead to the next game and understand that the standard of this club has to be higher and better, and we know that we are capable of that.”
Fernandes, who on Friday put pen to paper on a new contract that ties him to United until 2026 with the option of a further year, has come under scrutiny following a dip in his own form this season.
With Ronaldo and the injured Edinson Cavani absent and Marcus Rashford benched, Fernandes was deployed as a false nine while the returning Paul Pogba played higher up the pitch in a supplementary role.
United struggled to create many openings in a first half where their best chance fell to Fernandes, who fluffed his shot, but he had a hand in their equaliser three minutes after going behind.
Fernandes’ low strike drew a good save from Kasper Schmeichel but the ball headed into the path of Fred, who slotted in the rebound after 66 minutes which ultimately secured a share of the spoils.
But Fernandes wants to draw a line under a result that left United three points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played two games fewer, and is now eyeing next week’s trip to Everton.
“You have to think (about) winning every game we have going forward,” he added. “But now, (we need to be) thinking about the next one and not rushing too much because we have to think game by game.”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers was able to pair former United defender Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana together at the heart of the defence for the first time since last season’s FA Cup final 11 months ago.
While Evans returned from a hamstring injury, this was a first league start of the campaign for Fofana, who earned extra praise from his manager following his recovery from a broken leg.
“It was Wesley’s first day of Ramadan and he hasn’t eaten or absorbed a thing so to play to that level, it shows the strength of him and the top player he is,” Rodgers said.
“Those two centre-halves give you stability in the game.”
While Fofana played the entire match, Evans was withdrawn due to cramp moments after Iheanacho’s opening goal but the defensive pair are in line to feature in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.
Leicester welcome PSV Eindhoven to the King Power Stadium on Thursday before Crystal Palace travel to the midlands three days later.
“The idea is to recover over the next few days and then look to get them in that game (against PSV),” Rodgers added. “The game we’ll have to assess will be Crystal Palace because of the short turnaround.”