Brighton & Hove Albion defender Bernardo believes his debut season in English football will stand him in good stead for the 2019/20 campaign.
The Brazilian full-back arrived from RB Leipzig last summer on a four-year-deal, and he reflected honestly about his first season with the Seagulls and looked ahead to the positive impact it would have on his development in the future.
He said, “I think I’m far more comfortable with the intensity of the game now as opposed to last year – I had to step that up and improve my strength and stamina.
“It was also a different situation for me as a person, I was used to playing for sides that were fighting at the top of the table before I came here, but it was good experience for me that will make me a better player.
“It’s a different type of pressure when you’re fighting to stay in a league as opposed to going for a league title or pushing for Europe, so it’s heavier defensively – overall they are positive and new things that I can take forward for the rest of my career.”
Bernardo made his debut for the Seagulls on the opening day of last season in a defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road but didn't appear in the Premier league again until a substitute appearance away to Newcastle United over two months later.
However, the defender went on to make a further 21 appearances between then and the season’s end, becoming a mainstay in the side towards the end of the campaign.
“Whenever things aren't going well, of course you have thoughts about whether or not you made the right decision,” he continued.
“When I wasn’t in the team at the beginning of the season it was very difficult for me individually. As a team the last few matches were obviously tough – we really had to fight and things weren’t working well, so we were going through some difficult spells as a team.
“I feel like I’ll be in a far better position when the new season starts, now that I've had time to get used to the English game - usually you carry over the things you learn, pre-season will be the time for everyone to condition themselves after the summer break.
“I was one of a few new faces that came in last summer, in theory the more we all get used to it over time, the better we’ll be next season, but in football you never quite know for sure and every player has a different adaption period.”
The 24-year-old finished by assessing the season from both a team and an individual perspective and said that he was happy with how the campaign finished.
“I think there were lots of ups and downs but that’s only natural, it was a long season and it took me a while to adapt but that’s normal.
“I think come the end of the campaign I found myself at a good level - sometimes it can take other players more than just one season to adapt.
“I feel that I’m settled here now with the league and the style, so it’s a positive. The team reached its main goal of survival and I played a lot of matches towards the end of the year.”