IT WAS Paul Pogba’s failure to follow instructions that drove Jose Mourinho to distraction.
To get a player who is willing to put himself before the team.
Fernandes prefers the attacking playmaker role, what United have been lacking, but he can take up any position across the midfield.
What made Wayne Rooney so great for United, apart from his goals, was his ability to adapt to any role — even playing as a second right-back to nullify Barcelona in the goalless first leg of their 2008 Champions League semi-final.
That was the sort of person Sir Alex Ferguson wanted.
He would never buy anyone on ability or name alone.
Fergie would investigate a player’s character just as much as ability before making a decision.
He had to be the right person to fit into the group.
There has not been enough of that kind of analysis since the great man’s retirement.
Do you think he would have countenanced Bastian Schweinsteiger travelling the world watching his partner play tennis while he recovered from injury?
Or allowed Paul Pogba to shoot hoops in Miami while coming back from an ankle injury?
Can you imagine him coming to the sidelines to give instructions to one team member, only to watch that player flagrantly ignore them?
Mourinho called him over to tell him what to do — and Pogba didn’t do it. Mourinho subbed him in the 63rd minute and the pair’s relationship never recovered.
Pogba thought he knew better and wanted to play his own game.
Look also at Alexis Sanchez, who Solskjaer unbelievably suggested could return to United in the summer after a season on loan at Inter Milan.
He would not have lasted a month under Sir Alex, as he moaned and groaned behind the scenes and seemed to blame everyone else but himself as things went wonky.
So it has been interesting to see Solskjaer’s signings since he has had a chance to shape his team, all of whom have had the right impact on the club.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka immediately has become a crowd favourite for his rampaging performances from right full-back.
Centre-back Harry Maguire’s huge influence on the dressing room has earned him the captain’s armband just six months after signing.
They all look like they want to enjoy their very best days at Old Trafford.
United were unsure about a deal for Fernandes in the summer — but believe his improvement over the last six months has been marked, as a player and a man.
RIGHT KIND OF SIGNINGS
Solskjaer said: “We have been tracking Bruno for many months and everyone here has been tremendously impressed with all his attributes and what he will bring to this team.
“Most importantly he is a terrific human being with a great personality — and his leadership qualities are clear for all to see.
“Bruno’s goals and assist stats speak for themselves, he will be a fantastic addition to our team and will help us push on in the second part of the season.
“The winter break is coming at a perfect time for us to integrate Bruno into the squad and for him to get to know his team-mates.”
Those stats Solskjaer refers to are quite something.
From the start of 2017-18, no player in the Primeira Liga can better Fernandes’ goal involvement of 67.
Nobody has had more shots (271) or more shots on target (114) or even created more chances (239) in that time frame.
Last season, he scored 32 across all competitions.
He scored or contributed to 33 in the Primeira alone, more than any other midfielder across Europe’s major leagues.
The 25-year-old has been backed by former United and Portugal winger Nani, who is predicting a bright future in England.
Nani said: “I often said to him, ‘You, with the strength you have, if you train a little more you will explode and drive the English crazy’.
“England is where he will shine now.”
After putting pen to paper on a 5½-year deal with the option of a further 12 months, the hope at Old Trafford is that Fernandes now fulfils the prophecy from Nani.
Fernandes said: “I can promise the fans that I will give everything for the badge to help bring us more success and trophies.”
The way things are at United right now, he had better do just that.