The silent but fascinating brilliance of Fernandinho
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on September 4, 2016
Everybody roots for David, an underdog trading blows with the big hitters. However, once in a while shouldn’t we pull for Goliath? Sure it’s amazing to watch an N’Golo Kante succeed, a ‘diamond in the rough’. However, there is something fulfilling about watching a £35 million man surpass his expectations. That is Fernandinho.
It’s the 20th minute in Manchester City’s third game of the 2016/17 campaign. A clash against the ever increasing inability West Ham. The Citizens have just won a free kick 30 yards from goal. Belgian Kevin De Bruyne hit the ball towards the penalty spot where it’s met by Fernandinho.
Within seconds the Brazilain was wheeling away punching the air towards the City crowd. All of his teammates flocked towards him, all boasting massive smiles. Not because of the goal. But because of the goalscorer. Fernandinho is held amongst the highest regard inside Manchester City. A popular man on and off the pitch, and with reason. His teammates often find themselves looking up to his work rate and work ethic.
Fernandinho arrived in Manchester on the 9th June 2013 in a deal worth £34 million. Not much was known about the Brazilian upon his arrival apart from he’d played Chelsea in the Champions League.
The truth is Fernandinho had worked hard to carve out a reputation in Europe. One that he worked at for years in Ukraine, and one that had grabbed the attention of many top clubs, mainly Manchester City. He was starting to make his name as an attacking midfielder, a position where he’d find opportunities few and far between in England.
He was immediately thrown in at the deep end for City. Partnering Yaya Toure in central midfield behind David Siva. Originally Fernandinho was deployed as a defensive minded midfield, the man to mop up behind Yaya. However, every once in a while you could see the attacking midfield in him shine through. He would burst forwards and pick a killer pass or go for goal himself.
Playing in an unfamiliar environment and out of position slowed down Fernandinho’s progress. He repeatably came under fire from pundits and journalists. Being hit with a barrage 5s and 6s in match reports. Outshone by a Yaya Toure at the peak of his power.
His true colours finally shone in a match against Arsenal in December 2013. Still in his deeper role, Fernandinho would consistently pick the ball up and charge forwards, Yaya Toure esc, creating space for the more creative players. However, the game wouldn’t be remembered for that. Instead for a magical brace by the Brazilian, the first of which a finesse shot from the edge of area curling around a beaten Szczensy. The second late on after a flurry of one twos before finding its way to Fernandinho who coolly dinked the keeper. Despite a man of the match performance the match reports still read 6 or 7.
More workmanlike performances were to follow as he played a pivotal role in City’s 2nd title success in three years. Upon winning his second piece of silverware in England the midfielder immediately issued a challenge down to title rivals. “The most important thing is that we have to prepare, every week, every game, to show our best performance, show our football and defend our title”.
The saying goes it takes two to tango and in the summer of 2014 fellow Brazilian midfielder Fernando joined City. The latest addition to the squad, Fernando, was an out and out holding midfielder. Allowing Fernandinho to venture further forwards.
When the 2014/15 season came around Fernandinho found himself once more central to Pellegrini’s plans. Like the previous campaign Fernandinho got his head down and got on with his role. Not grabbing media attention, however consistently putting in good performance after good performance. Yaya Toure was starting to show his age and didn’t have the legs that had terrorised the BPL for years prior. Meaning Fernandinho was finding himself doing the work of two men in the middle. Often running out of steam late on, causing journalists to label him ‘overpaid’ and ‘overrated’.
Unfortuantly Fernandinho’s most memorable moment of the 14/15 campaign came during Man City’s spectacular implosion in Moscow. Fernandinho, now renowned as a hard tackler, picked up two rapid yellow cards. He was then joined by midfield partner Yaya Toure as they collapsed in a 2-1 defeat that almost dumped City out of the Champions League.
When 15/16 rolled around questions about Yaya Toures place were brought forward. Talk of Paul Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne arriving in Manchester added fuel to fire. However, through all the speculation of incomings Fernandinho repeatably kept his place.
The ensuing season proved to Fernandinho’s best in Manchester. Unlike previous seasons he was finnaly impressing journalists and pundits, who rained praise on the Brazilian.
Fernandinho’s first stand out performance came a year on from the the disaster in Moscow. Once more it was in the Champions League, this time however against Sevilla. Los Nervionenes promised a hostile atmosphere, it was quickly silenced by a rampant Fernandinho. Playing in the attacking midfield role he’d made his own at Shaktar, in the first twenty minutes he’d assisted Sterling and got into the act himself.
During Man City’s difficult Christmas period, Fernandinho stepped up to the plate. He single handedly held the Sky Blues together, the majority of the time being the difference between victory and defeat. Whilst people look to Aguero and De Bruyne as City’s stars they can’t do what they do without the tireless efforts of Fernandinho.
After a difficult spell City found themselfs needing a win to stay in the title race at the start of January at Watford. In the 60th minute Pellegrini made the tactical decision to replace Demichelis with Iheanacho and put the versatile Fernandinho at centre half. He didn’t just look competent there, he looked confident. Able to calm the defence down and pick passes to start attacks, City were able to grab the two goals they needed to win.
Respect was starting to grow for Fernandinho, his efforts starting to recognised by the wider world. At the end of February Fernandinho would be central to Manchester City’s second league cup success when he scored City’s only goal of the came. But in typical Fernandinho fashion, he was overshadowed by another player, Willy Cabellero.
Come May Fernandinho was heralded as one of the heros of an underwhelming season by City’s high standards. Incoming manager Pep Guardiola had already voiced his excitement of managing the Brazilian speaking highly of his work rate and versitility.
Pep Guardiola once said about Busquets ‘Watch the game and you’ll miss Busquets, watch Busquets and you’ll see the match’. The same can be said about Fernandinho. So next time you watch Man City, don’t watch the ball, watch the Brazilian in the centre of the park. There is a reason why he is rated so highly by current manger Guardiola and his predecessor Pellegrini. Watch him and you’ll understand his beauty.