Bruno Fernandes has undeniably been one of Manchester United's best performers of recent years, but it is similarly hard to deny that his on-field antics have rubbed some punters up the wrong way.
The Portuguese midfielder had a transformative effect on the team's midfield when he signed in 2020 and, even though his role in the team has changed under Erik Ten Hag, he remains a crucial part of the team's buildup, and has registered some impressive numbers this season.
Nonetheless, Fernandes remains divisive due to his tendency to throw his arms up on the pitch and remonstrate not only with match officials and opponents, but with his own teammates.
The criticism of this element of Fernandes' game came to a head after Liverpool's sensational 7-0 demolition of Manchester United last month.
Fernandes' performance in the rout at Anfield was given particular attention by pundits, as he gesticulated at teammates and clashed with a linesman. Some even suggested that he had appeared to ask manager Erik Ten Hag to substitute him late in the game.
One of those to slam Fernandes was Roy Keane, who described the playmaker's antics as "nothing short of disgraceful."
With Fernandes regularly taking on the role of captain this year for Manchester United, it is understandable that he is under added scrutiny this season. Nonetheless, he has responded to the criticism from the likes of Roy Keane by saying that he believes it to be unfair, and even had a pop at some TV pundits for saying controversial things to ensure they get more paid gigs.
Bruno Fernandes: Manchester United player responds to criticism from Sky pundits
Ahead of Manchester United's trip to Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon, Bruno Fernandes spoke to Sky Sports in an extended interview.
During his chat with Sky, Fernandes responded to the criticism that came his way after the defeat to Liverpool.
He said that the claims he had asked to be substituted were completely untrue, and took a pop at the pundits who had criticised him in the aftermath of the catastrophic capitulation:
Sometimes I go over the line, I know that. As I said, it can happen with a game, and it's difficult to control the emotion. I never try to be disrespectful with anyone.
I just think that the way I play the game, the passion I have for the game, is the way I feel better, and the way I feel I can give the most to my team and my club.
I also push the others to give the best of themselves. If I speak to someone on the pitch, it is because I believe that they can do better than what they're doing. Sometimes it's even giving credit to them - but, obviously, on the television you can't see that. You see the waving of the arms - that doesn't mean that you're moaning at someone.
We all know that the pundits have to say something, they have to get their work - and the more bad things they say, the more work they get sometimes. We just have to live with that.
It's a strong response from Fernandes, and no doubt will ruffle the feathers of some of those who have criticised him.
"He's been fantastic for Man United, but sometimes he goes over the top!"@GNev2 on Bruno Fernandes. pic.twitter.com/hJOSt7lq3H
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 16, 2023
Both Roy Keane and fellow ex-Manchester United man Gary Neville were on punditry duty for Sky on Sunday, and Neville responded to the Fernandes interview by clarifying his previous criticism of the 28-year-old:
I haven't spoken to any United fan who likes the way he behaves, particularly when the team are losing and he throws his arms around. As a football player, he's been fantastic for United, his goals and assists, he always plays. He's been fantastic.
He says he doesn't cause a problem when he throws his arms around, but he does. I played with Roy, who was a captain who, to be fair, would hand out the odd rollicking to a player or two. That was fine - it was direct, you could see where it was coming from. I think in the last couple of years at United there have been a few players who have tutted, who've been throwing their arms around on the pitch.
I think it's a different kind of criticism that doesn't help a young player. I called it out when Cristiano was doing it a couple of years ago, I call it out when Bruno Fernandes does it.
He is emotional, he is passionate...I've no problem with that but I have to say that every Manchester United fan that I speak to feels the same.