Manchester United are “nowhere near as effective” when Bruno Fernandes is absent claims Tony Cascarino.
The Red Devils have prospered massively from the playmaker’s arrival almost a year ago.
Fernandes has scored 22 times for United in less than a calendar year and remains their leading light.
The Portuguese star has been praised for his ambition in attack and can equal a club record tonight.
Should he score at West Ham he will become the first Red Devil since Dennis Law to score in six straight away games.
And Cascarino insists the 26-year-old is crucial to United performing to their optimum level.
“He has set the bar very high,” he said on TalkSport.
“If we ever talk about a player who hit the ground running, Bruno Fernandes did that with United, he was superb the moment he walked through the door.
“You always have to expect a dip in form, whether it’s a new player or a young player coming into the team. Just look at Mason Greenwood and how good he was last season, but he’s found it very tricky this season, but he’s a young lad so we give him a bit of leeway.
“But Bruno Fernandes is an established player, and international, and he has been quality.
“I’ve watched him three or four times this season and I’ve just focused on him.
“His movement is exceptional, he’s always wanting to try to find a pass and he takes those risky passes on as well.
“Which United have missed, they’re nowhere near as effective when he doesn’t play or he doesn’t do that.
“He’s a top player, and he is a really valuable number ten type of midfielder for Manchester United.
“But it makes a massive difference when he’s not on the pitch.”
Can Man Utd cope without Bruno Fernandes? Have your say here
* Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip