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Bruno Fernandes is eagerly anticipating a tough pre-season test against Everton in Manchester United’s final friendly before the Premier League kicks off in just over a week’s time.
Almost exactly a week after United kick off at home to Everton this Saturday, the Reds will be starting the season proper in the clash of the weekend against Leeds United. An intense warm-up against the Toffees will be essential and Fernandes understands that.
“The standard of Everton is really high and after that there is one week before we start,” Bruno told us, at this week’s training base in St. Andrew’s.
“It will be good to have a last test against a Premier League club with high standards and really good, quality players.”
United have thus far faced two Championship sides, Derby County and QPR, and recently-promoted top division outfit Brentford. The latter game was a thrilling 2-2 draw at Old Trafford and fans may expect something similar against Everton, with Bruno insisting his side will be going for the win.
“With this game it’s about performing well and getting some minutes in the legs,” said the Portuguese, who returned to training last week.
“Of course, we want to win the game, but the result will not be the most important thing. At the same time, though, we want to win!”
The other point of note in Saturday’s early kick-off will be the biggest crowd at Old Trafford since March 2020. 55,000 fans have bought tickets for the friendly and our attacking midfielder is thrilled by that fact.
“We all know playing without fans is not the same,” said the 26-year-old.
“We can say we love playing football and it doesn’t matter about the conditions you play in, but having the fans back and having the excitement from them gives you a little push when you need it.
“We are lucky to have them back. It’s been rare to have fans at the stadium. When I played at the Euros we played the first and third games with full stadiums and the feeling was really nice.”
The impact of fans is not merely an aesthetic one, or a matter of fulfilling tradition or restoring normality. Bruno says the presence of thousands of Reds in the stands makes a notable difference to the energy levels of the players.
“The fans will push us,” Bruno believes.