Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has praised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for allowing Bruno Fernandes almost a free role at Manchester United.
The diminutive midfielder has been integral to United’s renaissance over the last year.
The Sporting Lisbon star arrived last January with United agreeing an initial £47m fee, though add-ons could increase the overall cost to £67.6m.
Fernandes responded with eight goals and seven assists to help United finish in fourth spot. And this season he has 11 goals and seven assists from 16 Premier League games.
Merson says the Portugal star has been the signing of 2020, but believes Solskjaer deserves praise for setting him free.
“I would say so (that he was the signing of 2020) and I think it’s great management from Solskjaer for what he’s done,” he told Sky Sports.
“He can play whatever way he wants to play. No other Manchester United player can go out and play the way he plays.
“Certain times in games he’s anonymous and other players might get brought off but he can do what he wants.
“The Leicester goal he tries to nutmeg inside his own half, but he plays his own way and I think that’s brilliant by the manager.
“It’s very rare you get that at a big football club that you can have someone told go and do whatever you want to do.
“Try whatever you want to try and if it doesn’t come off you’re alright.
“It’s great management and I think he’s a special player.”
United have joined the reigning champions Liverpool on 33 points after 16 matches by securing a hard-fought 2-1 win from an entertaining New Year’s Day clash with high-flying Aston Villa.
Liverpool though face Southampton on Monday as they look to move clear of Solskjaer’s side, ahead of the meeting between the teams on January 17.
Merson added: “I love watching him play and what I love about him when it isn’t going well he’ll just keep on doing what he’s doing, he won’t hide and that’s what you call brave.
“Brave’s not going into 60-40 tackles against, brave is when it’s not going well and you keep getting on the ball.”
Pellestri lauds United quartet
Meanwhile, Facundo Pellistri has named four Manchester United stars that he enjoys training with after his promotion to the senior squad over the festive period.
The 18-year-old arrived at United from Uruguayan side Penarol in October and has impressed with the club’s Under-23s since his £9million switch.
Although Pellistri is still awaiting his senior debut he is regularly training with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first team.
In an interview with MUTV, as cited by the MEN, he named the first-team quartet — which predictably included fellow countryman Edinson Cavani — as four players he is learning from. The other names being Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba.