On Thursday, Erik ten Hag accused Nottingham Forest of intentionally targeting Bruno Fernandes during Manchester United’s FA Cup fourth round win, also criticising the “pathetic” criticism directed at the midfielder.

Despite a “serious injury” suffered in the defeat against Fulham the previous weekend, Bruno Fernandes contributed to United’s 1-0 win at the City Ground.

The Portuguese was responsible for the free kick that resulted in Casemiro’s goal in the 89th minute, thus securing passage to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup against rivals Liverpool.

Throughout the 90 minutes, Fernandes was the target of harsh attacks from the Forest players, in a context in which, just a few days earlier, the United captain had been the target of jokes on social media after his injury against Fulham. Ten Hag revealed that Bruno Fernandes has often been in pain due to aggressive tackles, which left him limping at the end of the game.

“I don’t want to talk about it, because you could see that Forest was attacking him, so I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but it was a serious injury. There were a lot of fouls on him. Maybe I’m a bit too harsh, but when he had the ball, they were right on top of him” said the Red Devils coach.

“Then I see the serious media criticising him and social media is pathetic and it can’t be. He has a serious injury, but he continued to play on Saturday and today (Wednesday) he also fought to take part in the game on the edge of pain” he added.

Manchester United, who face Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, have kept alive their last chance of winning a title this season despite a patchy display, but Ten Hag knows that facing Liverpool in the quarters means United are far from certain to win the second trophy of their troubled two-year reign.

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