Man United's Ten Hag demands apology for Fulham's Fernandes post

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag lashed out at Fulham on Thursday after the club posted a video suggesting that Bruno Fernandes feigned injury during the Old Trafford side's 2-1 loss to them on Saturday, provoking a social media backlash against the midfielder.

The Portugal midfielder was able to finish the game and was also passed fit to start the 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, after which Ten Hag defended Fernandes' toughness and the real nature of his injury.

On Thursday, Ten Hag once again came to his captain's defence: "It is not right. It is absolutely not right that a clip makes such statements. It is totally out of order and they were wrong so they should apologise for this."

United, according to a source, have viewed it as "regrettable" that Fulham posted the video showing Fernandes apparently in pain and then getting to his feet to continue playing with the caption "so glad he's OK" and accompanied by an eye-rolling emoji.

It was among many social reactions pointing the finger at Fernandes' behaviour.

United have decided against contacting Fulham and are keen to move on from the incident, but the club are unhappy with the perception that their captain is a play-actor who was looking to con referee Michael Oliver during the defeat to Fulham.

Ten Hag expects Fernandes and Raphael Varane, who both played against Forest despite injury concerns, will be fit for the Premier League clash with reigning champions Manchester City.

"They [Fernandes and Varane] fought to be part of the game and they came out of it well so I think they will be available for Sunday as well," Ten Hag said.

The Dutchman added that he can sense his team's excitement ahead of the derby and believes they can ride some momentum from the 1-0 win at Forest that put them into the quarter-finals.

"We are also in a good run, the spirit is very good, we are united, we have togetherness," Ten Hag said. "The players are ready for it, they are looking forward to it. I can smell it when I speak to the players. We are excited."

United face a City side in superb form, a point behind leaders Liverpool in second place. United are sixth, eight points adrift of Aston Villa for a top-four spot, but are unbeaten in five of their last six league games.

However, Ten Hag said Sunday's result will not define their season.

"After City, there are many more games and we know we have to catch up but the games are there for us to catch up in the right position," Ten Hag told reporters.

The manager was asked if Sunday's clash was a chance to make a statement after United's new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe pledged last week that the club would knock City "off their perch."

"I think it has nothing to do with it, but we want to win every game, that is always our mentality and approach. It doesn't matter who the opponent is but you always want to play against the best," Ten Hag said.

"Most of the time we feel that the opposition get their best outputs against Manchester United. Maybe this game is the other way around but we know we have to give everything, a team performance if you want to get the result there -- but if you do that, it is possible."

Much of Thursday's pre-game press conference focused on the much-maligned Portugal international Fernandes, who Ten Hag defended as a passionate and creative player.

"He is creating the most chances in the Premier League," the Dutchman said. "You see opponents are targeting him and especially Saturday (against Fulham) when he had the knock and they see it, then I feel that the refereeing should protect him."

Information from Reuters was used in this story.