|From almost ‘A Joke’ to Key Man: How Fred saved his Manchester United career
[Image Courtesy of Bleacher Report]
- Name: Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos; Fred
- Birthdate (Age): 5th March 1993 (27)
- Signed: 5th June 2018
- Appearances: 73
- Appearances this season: 46
- Goals: 2
- Assists: 4
- Pass Success (%): 88.1
- Tackles per game: 2.1
- Contract Till: 30th June 2023
Fred was coming back from a really disappointing 18/19 season and seemed to be on a downward spiral. He had become an easy scapegoat at Old Trafford since his £50 million move from Shakhtar Donetsk, credit to some horrific moments from the Brazilian. Fred was widely deemed to be ‘not good enough’ to play for the Greater Manchester outfit, leading him to be dropped from the squad ahead of the 19/20 season. His valuation has dropped from a career-high €50 million on his arrival in 2018 to a dismal €17.5 million in 2020 [TransferMarkt]. By the end of September, he had made just 3 substitute appearances in the Premier League, barely accumulating a total of 48 minutes.
But since then, Fred went to start the next 23 games and his consistent performances made him undroppable from Solskjaer’s squad as he formed a formidable partnership with Scott McTominay in the middle of the park. The Brazilian central-midfielder completely changed his fortunes over the course of the season and in fact, was one of the best and most-improved players in the 19/20 season, and was even awarded the Manchester United Player of the Month award for January’20. The former Internacional boy has worked a lot on his passing, game awareness and overall he looks like a much better player. ‘Pastor Fred’, as we’ve been calling him lovingly, provides the much-needed energy to run the midfield engine. We’ve seen that Fred is a better player defensively as compared to his other counterparts, averaging 1.3 interceptions per game this season [WhoScored.com]. He can play in the DM role but he’s certainly not as good as Matic. The Brazilian hasn’t featured much since the restart and has had to settle for a spot on the bench with Pogba fit and Matic becoming the key to solving Manchester United’s defensive woes while orchestrating the midfield as well.
Overall Rating – 8/10
Ambitions for Next Season
With the arrival of Donny van de Beek confirmed last night, it’s certain that Fred falls down the pecking order in Manchester United’s midfield. The Brazilian will certainly be of great importance to us as a squad player and can provide the impetus required in the midfield from the bench. But to force his way into the first team, he’ll have to put in a lot of effort, improve himself massively, and consistently perform to show that he can be a starter for us. We have many options in the midfield now giving Solskjaer a selection headache, but I reckon it’s a good thing to be worried about. As things stand, I’d say Ole will stick to the midfield three of Bruno-Pogba-Matic with regular rotation amidst Van de Beek, Fred, and McTominay, with the Dutchman reasonably preferred. If Fred wants more game time he’ll have to adapt and excel in Matic’s role before another CDM arrives at Old Trafford. He’s still important to us as he provides the much-needed squad depth required for being able to compete on all fronts.