Erik ten Hag responds to calls for Bruno Fernandes to be stripped of Manchester United captaincy

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has responded to criticism of Bruno Fernandes following his side’s 7-0 defeat to Liverpool by hailing the Portuguese international as an “inspiration” and backing the midfield to continue wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Harry Maguire.

Fernandes was labelled a “disgrace” and “embarrasing” by Gary Neville for his petulant behaviour at Anfield on Sunday as United suffered their heaviest defeat since 1931, while Ten Hag said his team’s performance was “unprofessional”.

It has been suggested that Fernandes should not be allowed to captain United again following the display, with the player also facing calls to be banned for a push towards the assistant referee Adam Nunn.

But Ten Hag said Fernandes will “definitely” be United’s captain moving forwards as he backed the 28-year-old to “learn” from the second-half collapse.

“I think he’s playing a brilliant season, he’s played an important role in the position that we are in,” Ten Hag said as he addressed the defeat before Thursday’s Europa League last-16 first leg against Real Betis.

“ He’s giving energy to the team, running a lot with intensity, in the right way. He’s pointing and coaching players, he’s an inspiration for the whole team.

“No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. I’m really happy to have Bruno Fernandes in my team and I’m happy with him as our captain with Harry not on the pitch."

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