“I learned from Quaresma,” said Bruno Fernandes after helping to book Manchester United’s first Wembley cup final in five years.
It’s a bold call to invoke the name of one of the game’s great aesthetes, but Fernandes harked back to the golden age of Ricardo Quaresma with his performance against Nottingham Forest.
“I had a great professor in Portugal, you have to learn with the players, you have to learn their tricks and you have to use them.
“As Luke [Shaw] said, one out of 20 [skills coming off] is not bad. I’m really happy for the performance of the team, for the goals that we create. We had more chances and could have scored more, but I think Nottingham defended really well.”
Fernandes was specifically talking about his sumptuous outside-of-the-boot pre-assist for United’s second on the night, a goal from Fred that added that layer of gloss to an emphatic 5-0 aggregate Carabao Cup semi-final victory.
Fred may have claimed the goal, and Marcus Rashford the assist, but any half-decent analysis has to be centred on Fernandes’ moment of brilliance.
And just like that it's TWO! 🔴 pic.twitter.com/Et6udZxVKS
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) February 1, 2023
The crazy thing is that wasn’t even Fernandes’ sexiest pass of the evening.
The playmaker’s finest moment came from another perfectly-executed trivela pass out to Luke Shaw.
Having drifted into an ocean of space in the centre of park, you could see the cogs whirring as he scanned his options and assessed what to do, knowing that he was about to receive the ball from Casemiro.
Give Manchester United’s No.8 that kind of time and space and you can be pretty sure he’s going to take the opportunity to do something special, just as with Quaresma before him.
After the most casual swing of Fernandes’ boot, Shaw was suddenly away. The full-back had broken behind Forest’s backline but a heavy touch saw the move break down.
Anyone could tell that something special had happened. Play the clip, but close your eyes and just listen to that collective, appreciative groan from the Old Trafford faithful as they take a moment to digest what Fernandes had just done.
That’s the sound of a thousand Quaresma trivelas, from the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon to the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul. Whether you’re Portuguese, Turkish or English, the inflection and accent might change, but it catches the breath every time.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 25, 2019
The most impressive thing about Fernandes is that he has both style and substance.
Not only does he produce Quaresma-esque moments that take your breath away, but he’s scored or assisted 100 goals in his first 155 appearances for Manchester United. And now he’s one step away from lifting a first piece of silverware with the club.
With a player capable of producing moments like this, you’d be brave to bet against Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils at Wembley.