Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has defended Bruno Fernandes regarding claims over the midfielder faking an injury during a recent match. The club captain was seen writhing in pain on the pitch when United faced Fulham on Saturday. Fernandes also waved towards the referee in an attempt to earn a free kick.

Nevertheless, the play continued without the phantom foul being called. As he did not receive the call, the Portugal international then quickly picked himself off of the field. Fernandes subsequently asked for a pass from a teammate near the edge of the Fulham box. The visiting Cottagers eventually won the game 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Alex Iwobi.

Following the match, Fulham’s social media team posted the clip of Fernandes on their official TikTok. Along with showing the United player’s actions, the video also included the words “so glad he’s OK…” as a caption.

Red Devils manager says Fernandes should be protected more by refs

United manager Erik ten Hag was directly asked about the TikTok post during a press conference on Thursday. The Dutchman claimed that he did not see the video, but Fulham was wrong for sharing the video. “I didn’t know this, but if they did it I would say it is not right,” claimed Ten Hag.

“It is absolutely not right that a club makes such a statement, because it is totally out of order and they were wrong so they should apologize for this.”

Along with lambasting Fulham for the post, ten Hag also asserted that Fernandes deserves more protection from referees. The manager even claimed that Nottingham Forest players essentially targeted his captain during their matchup on Wednesday.

“He is a very passionate football player and he’s a very creative one, he has created the most chances in the Premier League,” continued the coach. “You see opponents are targeting him and especially after Saturday when he had the knock and they see it, and then I feel the referee should protect him there. They had to change at the start of the game because it was so obvious they were looking for him.”

Portuguese star criticized for similar moves in the past

Despite Ten Hag’s claims, the latest incident is not the first incident of this kind for Fernandes. The star midfielder previously came under fire at least twice for similar issues during the 2022/23 campaign. During a matchup with Arsenal in January of that season, Fernandes fell to the ground holding his head late in a 2-2 draw. Fernandes lightly contacted an opposing player. Still, he made the most of it.

Fernandes then clutched his face during a massive fixture with Liverpool a few months later. With the Reds up 4-0, the United star attempted to get a free kick after a failed tackle attempt on Ibrahima Konate. Video replays showed that there was minimal contact between the two players if any at all.

Premier League officials seem intensely focused on controlling dissent by coaches and players towards referees. While this is fairly understandable, curbing other behavior such as faking injuries is just as important. Although fans can be quite polarizing in their opinions, no one wants to continue seeing these displays in a top division such as the Premier League.