Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Bruno Fernandes “wasn’t happy” after he was substituted against Leeds.
Fernandes scored twice in the 6-2 hammering of their local rivals before being replaced by Donny van de Beek in the 71st minute.
Speaking ahead of United’s Carabao Cup clash with Everton, Solskjaer suggested he was ready to rest Fernandes ahead of the hectic festive period.
“Bruno is one that I also have to protect,” Solskjaer said.
But he named the Portuguese playmaker in the starting line-up to take on the Toffees despite making plenty of other changes.
And, asked about his comments prior to selecting Fernandes, Solskjaer admitted he was frustrated by his withdrawal against Leeds.
“I never said that [he would rest Bruno Fernandes],” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
“I took him off last game and he wasn’t happy — Bruno is one of those who recovers very quickly, but then again if games are won, why not rest him then.”
Fernandes has become United’s key man since his January move from Sporting Lisbon.
And club legend Gary Neville this week raised question marks over their reliance on Fernandes as he hailed his leadership.
Neville told Sky Sports Monday Night Football: “There’s Paul Pogba, there’s David de Gea, there’s Maguire, they’ve all been captain of the team, Cavani with his experience.
“He (Fernandes) is the leader in that team, leader by example. Leader by what he does when he gives the ball away, he sprints straight after it. Every time the team are on the ball, he wants the ball. Every time he gets the ball, he wants to play a pass that matters.
“He’s transformed, I’d say, the whole club from a point of view of if he doesn’t play, it’s a massive problem, and that’s a big issue when you’re almost reliant on him.
“Of all the midfield players they’ve got – Van de Beek, Pogba, Fred, Matic, McTominay – he is just the one absolutely out there as the one of those three midfield players that pick themselves.
“Fernandes has been an absolute sensation at United – he’s the leader of that team and if it’s not him wearing the armband, he could be.”