Bruno Fernandes was a revelation when he first arrived at Manchester United, and his numbers since joining have been consistently impressive.
But, as Manchester United's form took a sharp downturn last season, more focus was drawn to the Portuguese's antics on the pitch, and the manner in which he can be seen gesticulating wildly and complaining to referees.
Even as performances have improved this season, Fernandes has remained a contentious figure among opposition fans due to his perceived petulance on the pitch.
In an interview with the Athletic on Tuesday, Fernandes shut down this criticism, suggesting that his tendency to argue with referees is "normal" and that his position in the Manchester United team puts him under a greater spotlight than others who carry out similar behaviour.
Bruno Fernandes: Moaning on the pitch is "normal"
Bruno Fernandes has been a key player at Old Trafford for two and a half years now. The former Sporting Lisbon man revitalised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United in the spring of 2020, and has been a first XI regular ever since.
Salah heads home and what a last ten minutes we are in for! 👀 pic.twitter.com/R6HypPBgKd
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 22, 2022
His tendency to pick up yellow cards on top of his many goals and assists, however, has seen his attitude questioned.
Speaking to the Athletic, Fernandes addressed this criticism, saying his hostile energy on the pitch is something he needs to play well:
It's who I am. What you see on the pitch is the Bruno who's passionate for the game and who will not give anything away. I can even fight with somebody who is my friend away from the pitch.
I play against Wolves and there are many Portuguese players - but if I have to kick them, I will kick them. If I have to moan at them, I will.
I need that. I played many games where I was quiet, and nobody said anything about that. But I did not feel myself. I need it to feel alive.
Though last season saw a disappointing drop off in form, Fernandes' numbers from the Manchester United midfield cannot be questioned. He has been involved in 91 goals in 134 games since joining the club. When he joined, the club sat in sixth in the league. By the end of his second season, they were Premier League runners up.
Throughout his time at United, one area of Fernandes' game that has consistently drawn attention is his relationship with referees. He can often be seen moaning with referees, but he points out that many other players at smaller clubs do not get the same attention Manchester United players do.
He went on to share one hilarious quip from a Premier League referee:
Some of them like the way I am. They kind of joke about it sometimes. One of the referees said to me, 'Bruno, all the time you're winning, you are such a good guy. But when you are losing or drawing, oh my god, you are a pain in my ass.'
I want to be like that. I want the referee to feel that I am pressing him and always there talking to him.
Bruno Fernandes' talent cannot be questioned, but his attitude on the pitch has seen him come under fire consistently.
It certainly seems like the 28-year-old is prepared to weather that criticism and, with United and his performances taking an upturn in recent weeks, he will hope to shut down his critics on the pitch.