Bruno Fernandes has enjoyed a dream debut year at Manchester United, but the club have been warned over two possible concerns that could crop up over their star playmaker.

Former United man Ben Thornley believes there will be an inevitable drop-off in Fernandes' returns, despite the fact the Portuguese has exceeded all expectations since arriving at Old Trafford. Class of 92 graduate Thornley, in an exclusive interview with MEN Sport, also called upon United to match Fernandes' ambitions in the coming months and years.

United signed Fernandes almost exactly a year ago for a £47million up-front fee from Sporting Lisbon.

And while his form has been remarkably consistent over the 12-month period, there have been one or two lapses, such as in the summer when last season was eventually completed. More recently Fernandes has looked a little fatigued, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refuted such claims.

"You are going to see it," said Thornley, who now analyses United as a pundit for MUTV.

"It would only be fair for me to say in the last five or six games finishing off last season, in the game against Southampton at Old Trafford — when they came and put United under a lot of pressure — the downturn in the team was very apparent.

"And it's inevitable when you're playing so many games in such a short space of time, that you are going to get people dropping in and out of form. That period, those games leading up to the end of the season, is probably the only time that there has been a tail-off in Fernandes' performances.

"But then he came back and hit the ground running. And it's his appetite to want to play in every game, he knows he's a talisman for Man United now and he takes that mantle on his shoulders."

Manchester United beat Fulham 2-1 thanks to goals from Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba.

Pogba once again turned in a high-class performance as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side reclaimed top spot in the Premier League. Now United turn their attention to another clash with rivals Liverpool, this time in the FA Cup fourth round.

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Fernandes' character and determination in games has led to Solskjaer giving him the captaincy when Harry Maguire has been absent. Thornley believes the player's ambition to win trophies is something that United must satisfy.

United are currently on their longest trophy drought since the early days of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure — though they now genuinely challenging for the title for the first time since 2013.

On Fernandes, Thornley added: "Watching him on the field and listening to him in interviews, he is a very very ambitious guy — and why wouldn't you be when you're performing at a top level at one of the best clubs in the world?

"I'm pretty sure United want to match his ambitions. It's been eight years coming up that United haven't won the league and this year is the best chance they've got since Sir Alex Ferguson left. If that's going to be the case, Bruno is going to be a huge part of that."