Stephen Tudor of The Daisy Cutter profiles Fernandinho after two hit-and-miss seasons at Manchester City…
Thirty-four million quid was an awful lot of money to be shelling out for a box-to-box midfielder most Manchester City supporters were only familiar with from Champions League highlights, but a need for quality in that role trumped any financial consideration. The recently deposed champions were well-stocked with engine room functionality but fell noticeably short on urgency and general ferreting, someone my dad would call a ‘busy bugger’ with sufficient drive to squiggle over the predictable lines and break into the opposition area while having enough in his legs to make it back when the move broke down. A Yaya Toure, if you like, with the work-rate of a man without a hobby.
Fernandinho was precisely this player and more, and swiftly established himself as a fan’s favourite for playing exactly how we would if handed a shirt.
For his opening campaign he was everywhere, a one-man dynamo who additionally possessed the priceless ability to gauge exactly where a referee’s line in the sand was. Time and again we saw it, an early cruncher earning a warning followed by a series of mini-crunchers that tested the official’s tolerance but rarely resulted in a card. For such a tenacious, scrappy player it really is a gift.
City were ultimately crowned champions after handing out six goal thumpings to Spurs and Arsenal along the way with the Brazilian particularly impressive in the latter.
Then came the World Cup with ‘Ferny’ rightfully selected for his outstanding club season. Until the semi-final massacre at the hands of the Germans things were going quite well really for the hosts. I appreciate that’s like pointing out all who sailed on the Titanic enjoyed four days of pleasant cruising until they hit the iceberg, but it’s true nonetheless.
It took just 90 minutes for a nation’s pride and their very identity to be stripped to nothing and this extended even more so to the players.
City’s ball of energy returned shell-shocked and a shadow of his former self, a dramatic dip in form that cost him his place and persisted into much of 2014/15.
Even his reading of refs seemed to have deserted him with an entirely avoidable dismissal in a Champions League defeat to CSKA compounding a thoroughly miserable time for the likable 30 year old.
It took several months to turn things around and by then the title chase was little more than a pipedream while James Miler had usurped him as the team’s sparkplug. But turn it around he did.
Fernandinho’s two years in England are so juxtaposing they could justifiably be split into BWC and AWC: before the World Cup and after.
What comes next? Whether it is glory or failure you can be assured it will be done with full-throttle intensity, like a fan handed a shirt.