The Portugal international hit the ground running following a big money move from Sporting in January 2020 but later saw his form dip amid a wider malaise at Old Trafford.
While the 28-year-old remains a key figure at the club, Fernandes proved somewhat of a lightning rod for criticism as United failed to follow up on a promising second-placed finish during the 2020/21 season.
Signed for £72m six months before Fernandes, the Ivory Coast international failed to settle and has since been loaned to Nice, while the United star remains a prominent player.
Speaking to The Athletic, Fernandes said: “He [Pepe] had some bad games and everyone was saying, ‘He still has to adapt’.
“But when Bruno was having a bad game, it was just because he was moaning or not focused on the game.
“For me, that was good, because it meant that I was ready and that’s why they were demanding so much from me.”