Troy Deeney on being ‘surprised’ by Bruno Fernandes & why he ‘lost the head’ with Odion Ighalo vs Man United in 2016

Watford striker Troy Deeney has this weekend opened up on both of Manchester United’s January additions, as well as providing an insight into why he was left fuming with former teammate Odion Ighalo following a meeting with the Red Devils in 2016.

United down Watford

Nigel Pearson’s men visited Old Trafford for a Premier League clash late in February, before the campaign was halted by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Hornets were no doubt aware ahead of kick-off that they were set to face off against a much-improved United, with the Manchester giants having headed into proceedings on the back of a 5-game unbeaten streak.

And, when all was said and done, Watford proved no match for their hosts, eventually succumbing to a deserved 3-0 defeat.

‘Very good’

Key to Manchester United’s comfortable victory over the Hornets was Bruno Fernandes.

Portuguese midfielder Fernandes has proven an absolute revelation since his move to Old Trafford during the January transfer window, and bagged his first goal in the colours of the Red Devils amid a Man of the Match display versus Watford.

One individual who was left particularly impressed by the 25-year-old’s standout display 2 months ago, meanwhile, was Troy Deeney.

Deeney was part of the Watford XI put to the sword by Fernandes’ United, with the Hornets captain having since admitted that he was left ‘surprised’ by the midfield creator’s talents:

‘I thought Bruno [Fernandes] was very good, surprised me how good he was,’ Deeney told the United stand.

‘Losing my head with him’

Deeney’s in-depth interview also saw the 31-year-old discuss Manchester United’s other January signing, on-loan hitman Odion Ighalo.

Deeney and Ighalo actually spent 2-and-a-half years playing alongside one another at Vicarage Road, during the latter’s hit-and-miss spell on Watford’s books from 2014 to 2017.

As outlined above, though, one of Deeney’s lasting memories of his former teammate, who was introduced off the bench in February’s matchup, surrounds a near-bust-up between the pair back in 2016.

Another meeting between the Hornets and United at Old Trafford saw Ighalo blow a brilliant chance for the visitors, when the Nigerian opted to go for goal, rather than square the ball to his strike partner.

Watford eventually went on to lose the clash by a goal to nil, with Deeney having been left so infuriated by Ighalo’s actions that he opted to drive back to Hertfordshire, rather than join the rest of his teammates on their flight home, amid concerns that there were ‘gonna be problems’:

‘When we used to play, we played one year I ended up losing my head with him. He had like four, five shots and then there was one – I remember Fosu-Mensah was playing, I think he was making his debut – and basically [Ighalo] got put in behind and literally all he had to do was square it and I’m rolling it in from eight yards out. And then he shot and it went wide. And he knew. You know when you know, because he looked at me and was like, “Ah”. Like, this is gonna get sticky. And I remember just going in at half-time like, “If that’s the game we’re playing then take me off innit, because I thought we were here to win, I don’t really care who scores”.’

‘I was in that much of a mood – because Mata scored and United won 1-0 – that I drove home. I didn’t get back on the plane. I literally said to the manager: “You put me on this plane, there’s gonna be problems, so let me just calm down” and I drove from Manchester to Watford. And this was like a Tuesday or Wednesday night. He definitely wanted to score. We spoke about it the day after, and I was just like, “Dude, we’ve just gotta win and if you’d let me score in that instance, Man United would have had to come out, you’d have had three of four other chances to score”.’

‘But he built that game up so much. That was the game, he’s a Man United fan, a lot of his family in Africa are Man United fans. So that was the game, in the same way Villa is that game for me.’

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Odion Ighalo of Manchester United celebrates scoring their second goal during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford on February 27, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Deeney, though, was also keen to sing Ighalo’s praises, with the Englishman having revealed his opinion that Manchester United will likely end up signing his former partner in crime outright ahead of next season:

‘He trains well, he’s no hassle, genuinely I bet if you asked any person at United they’d say he’s no hassle. Absolutely sick, nice guy, genuinely he’s a Man United fan as well.’

‘It was never going to get physical between me and him or anything like that, it was just genuinely a pure frustration, like “Dude, you’re better than that”. But he will be good for Man United and honestly I can see them keeping him next year. I don’t see them getting rid.’

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This article was edited by Conor Laird.

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