Bruno Fernandes has admitted that the “ghosts of the past” – the team’s past struggles – have an impact on him and his Manchester United team-mates.
After a poor 2021/22 campaign which saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sacked and interim boss Ralf Rangnick oversee further turmoil, United hired Erik ten Hag in the hopes that the Dutchman would bring success back to the club.
In the first matches of this season though, it didn’t look like that would be the case with an opening day defeat to Brighton being followed by a 4-0 thrashing at Brentford.
Things have turned around since then with the team picking up wins against Liverpool and Arsenal, but Fernandes admitted that the squad were scared during the earlier weeks of the season when things weren’t going to plan.
“You could feel it between us, between the fans, in the atmosphere, that it was like getting back to the past,” he told The Athletic.
“Everyone felt that the confidence was low again. Everyone was a little — not afraid — but not feeling the best to take the ball. I felt sometimes like it was the ghosts from the past.
“Then Brentford was even worse. We conceded a goal from nothing and all of a sudden you could see the energy of the team was low, the confidence was low.”
He added: “Confidence in football is not everything but almost everything. When you have the confidence of your team-mates, your coach, the fans, it is really important because sometimes on the pitch, when you miss a pass and everyone is… You can feel it in that moment.
“But when you miss a pass and react quickly, you see the fans appreciate it, so for us, it is about having the confidence that we are capable of doing something.
“When I talk about the ghosts of the past, I mean that we felt in the past that every time we miss a pass or something, we were letting someone down, so you start missing more. Instead, you must think, ‘I have to try’.”