Bruno Fernandes arrived at Manchester United from Sporting at the start of this year.
A move to England saw the Portugal international meet his compatriots Diogo Dalot and Bernardo Silva in Manchester.
The Red Devils fullback represented FC Porto in the past, while the Manchester City star joined Pep Guardiola’s side from Benfica in 2017. The two Portuguese clubs, along with Sporting form the ‘big three’ in the Primeira Liga.
Portuguese channel TVI24 interviewed Fernandes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfielder revealed his admiration towards his former club would see him speak “ill” about Sporting’s derby rivals, Benfica.
“It’s obvious for me, in Portugal, I prefer that Sporting win over Benfica. It’s normal and any player who played at Benfica and has a special affection for Benfica will say the same, it’s normal,” Fernandes was quoted as saying by Record.
“I have Bernardo here [in Manchester] and if I ask him if he wants Sporting to win, even if it is against Tondela, he will obviously tell me, no. And it’s normal because his club is Benfica. They are rivals and he won’t want us, Sporting, to win any match.
“I think this taboo has been created, and I think it has to be undone. We players, when we say something in the sense of ‘I hope that Benfica does not win in Portugal’ is because we have a connection to another club other than that, there’s no other reason.”
Fernandes was discussing the rivalry between Sporting and Benfica, citing an example of the interaction he had with the City midfielder during a dinner at Silva’s residence.
“Bernardo said something to me and I said to him, ‘You were lucky that I didn’t play because we might not have won, but I would have hit you’. These are things that we have between us,” the United player added.
“Obviously, I like Bernardo a lot. He’s an incredible person. Everyone knows he’s a great guy and we have a very good connection.
“The other day, when I was here a month ago, Sporting were playing, I don’t remember who, and he invited me to go to his house for dinner and watch the game. And Bernardo is not a Sportinguista. He almost didn’t care about the game, but we ended up being there for a while, discussing our things.
“He’s talking ill about Sporting, me talking ill about Benfica… In the positive sense of a rivalry that exists among friends and that exists in cafes or anywhere.”
Fernandes had an instant impact at Old Trafford, and his fine displays in the second half of last season helped United finish third and qualify for this season’s Champions League.
The English club made it to the last four of the FA Cup and the Europa League last campaign, but were knocked out by Chelsea and Sevilla respectively. The former Sporting captain has set his sights on taking the next step to win silverware with United this term.
“We made it to three semi-finals, I was in two of them, and we were unable to reach the final and that affects any player. This year the goal is to reach the finals and win titles, which is Manchester United’s goal,” Fernandes said.
“When I arrived, I saw the trophies displayed in the training centre and the moment I saw the Europa League trophy, I thought that it would be one of the big goals for last season. The goals were the Europa League and the FA Cup. Unfortunately we didn’t get those two, but we managed to get a third place finish, which was to get a place in the Champions League.”
Regarding his ambitions, Fernandes said: “I am a person who likes to put pressure on game after game, season after season. I always like to improve my numbers, to always do better.”
“Obviously this season is no exception, I want to do more than I did last year.”