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Paul Ince claims the “jury’s still out” on Bruno Fernandes when it comes to comparisons with Eric Cantona as the Manchester United talisman needs a title triumph in order to join such illustrious company.
He has been a revelation through the first 12 months of his time in England, with United looking to him for inspiration in times of need.
Fernandes has bettered Cantona when it comes to end product through his first 30 games in the Premier League, with the 26-year-old boasting 33 goal involvements so far.
Those efforts have helped the Red Devils to a top-four finish and into contention for a first Premier League crown in eight years, but Ince says major silverware is required in order to rub shoulders with the elite.
The former United midfielder told Sky Sports of the Cantona comparisons: “Eric could do absolutely everything. It was just those moments where you had to win the game. People were chasing us and we did not win the title by a lot.
“Much-needed goals. You know, those moments when you start to worry, start to panic, and the game is not going your way and you don't know where the goal is coming from. That is when he would pop up and score a vital goal.
“I think that is probably the same with Fernandes. He scores vital goals.
“I think he was very impressive when he first came. He hit the ground running. This year, I don't think he has been as impressive but he is still a major factor in the team. He is still the talisman.
“Sometimes you might not see him for 25 minutes but he has always got that technical ability to do something magic at the right time. Whether it is a penalty, a wonderful ball, a free-kick, he has always got that in his locker so you can never rule him out of any game.
“The players love him and he has got a character about him. We talk about character all the time and how we are losing that trait in football. But there was a time when I watched him have a go at Victor Lindelof. He puts demands on players.
“For someone to come from a foreign country, Portugal, to a club like Manchester United and put demands on his players. He is a winner and it is infectious.”
While saluting Fernandes’ efforts through a memorable first year in Manchester, Ince added on claims that the Portugal international is already standing alongside Cantona: “The jury's still out.
“Cantona came into a team who were under pressure to win the title. Manchester United, this year, are not under the pressure to win the title. We didn't expect them to be up there challenging the likes of Liverpool and Man City.