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Bruno Fernandes is an Eric Cantona-esque presence for Manchester United, admits Paul Parker, but the Red Devils’ class of 2020-21 have become a one-man team – which was never the case when an iconic Frenchman ruled the roost at Old Trafford.
United are also chasing down FA Cup and Europa League honours, after picking up an unfortunate habit of slipping out of competitions at the semi-final stage, and Fernandes will have a prominent role to play from this point.
He has been drawing obvious comparisons to legendary figures of the past, with his role as chief playmaker placing him into a talent pool alongside the likes of Cantona.
Parker is concerned as to how long such lofty standards can be maintained by the Portugal international, with it clear that he needs greater assistance at Old Trafford – with it possible that experienced Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani could be the man to provide that.
Former United defender Parker told Eurosport: “It's the strength and the presence of Bruno Fernandes that's making the difference for Manchester United.
“Even with how much everyone thought of Eric Cantona and what he did, and they still talk about how great he was at the time, people didn't look at Manchester United as a one-man team like they do at the moment.
“United fans are fearful of Fernandes being unavailable for a few games because they have made themselves too reliant on one player to pull the strings in every attacking move they have. We saw that in the Wolves game and they defended against him very well.
“What United need is someone else on the park at the same time as him, not someone else to come in when he's injured, and to take defenders away from him.
“When Eric Cantona was on the pitch, his presence helped other players into making attacks so there was more than one attacking thrust. This Manchester United team struggle with that.
“You don't want to go out and spend in the current situation. You've got Edinson Cavani - use him. He's the best centre-forward they've got in this moment in time at the club, so try and make him a presence like they did with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“The difference, which Zlatan could not do when he was at United, is Cavani will make a run for Fernandes to find him with a pass, or will be able to see where Fernandes should be making a run and will make that pass.
“It's all about creating space and that is what he will do. Anthony Martial won't make a run to make something happen so there's a big difference between the two strikers. Cavani has to play.”