Fred – From Flop to Hero?

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Fred, our £50m midfielder, was one of just two players that we signed in that audacious transfer window that preceded one of our worst seasons. Fred came in along with Diogo Dalot in that summer owing to severe under-backing on the board’s part. While upset and annoyed, we were still quite excited to see Fred and Dalot make it into the first team. On his debut against Leicester, Fred tried elaborate tricks and skills which is unusual for a new signing. As a new signing, you just try to settle down and play the easy passes. Needless to say, Fred’s skills were far from impressive as he kept losing possession in our own half and invited needless pressure from Leicester.

This review of Fred became a mainstay to his game and often received criticism for just under-performing in general. He soon became a liability and was dropped for long periods with fans calling for him to be sold. The midfield trio of Scott McTominay, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba emerged and seemed quite undroppable. But with Herrera choosing to leave for PSG, we had a huge gap in the centre of the park.
Our fans were shouting out for a central midfielder in the summer window. Names like Bruno Fernandes and James Maddison popped up but our board ignored these calls and did not sign reinforcements in midfield. We are now feeling that lack of squad depth with Pogba’s “injuries”, McTominay’s 8 week-long injury and Andreas Pereira just being a bad footballer.
During pre-season, Fred joined our squad late due to some personal commitments. This, for a lot of the fans, was the final nail in the coffin. He had a good chance of starting the season strong by rushing into pre-season and training harder than others but he had blown it.

As the season began, the team looked absolutely dire and the lack of squad depth was visible for everyone to see. With injuries further marring the season, we needed a midfield warrior. With credit where it’s due, of late Fred stepped up his game and is almost undroppable now. He suddenly became the player we’ve needed at United since Herrera left. Fred ditched his fancy footwork and skills and went back to the basics. He started winning tackles by not over-committing and regained possession regularly. Fred’s speed and movement has been determining the tempo of our games. His performance against Manchester City was especially noteworthy.

However, there are still some gaps in his game that need to be helped. Without improving these areas, he won’t be undroppable, at least in my book. I feel he needs to be better at dealing with pressing players. He seems to panic when he sees an opponent closing down on him. He lost possession for the first Newcastle goal in our 4-1 victory and that came from him losing out on the ball cheaply.
The second issue with him is that he needs to be contributing more with goals. Unlike Herrera, he shies away from attempting those long-range shots and when he does, they’re often dispatched to row Z. He needs to be helping out with the dearth of creativity in midfield which will eventually lead to more assists. Currently, he sits on 1 assist all season that too against Astana in the Europa League. Also, being in Manchester United’s current situation, we could really use some goals right now!

That said, Fred isn’t one of our problem players for now but if we do get the chance to sign a better player, I’d be all for it unless he makes amends to the problems I’ve mentioned above. United need to be in the market for a central midfielder regardless. The names of James Maddison, Ruben Neves, and even Boubakary Soumare have come up. If Fred does want to become a mainstay in the United squad, he’ll have to further up his game and perform like he has so far on a more consistent basis.

Author: TUD Author