The Brazilian has been Solskjaer’s go-to player to partner McTominay in the pivot. However, his performance has been inconsistent. His performances prompted United legend, Roy Keane to question United’s ability to win silverware with Fred in the midfield. Despite the criticism received, United did not sign a much needed defensive midfielder. So how has Fred fared this season in comparison to the last?
Fred’s 2020-21 Season
Fred has made 48 appearances for Manchester United during the 2020-21 season, scoring 1 and assisting 2. But goals and assists were not his main preoccupation. Fred played a total of 3750 minutes this past season. It shows the faith Solskjaer has put into the Brazilian. He made 30 appearances in the Premier League, 8 in the Europa League, 4 in the Champions League and 3 each in both domestic cup competitions.
Fred did very well in terms of defensive numbers, compared to other Premier League defenders. He put up 2.7 tackles per game and 1.5 interceptions per game. These figures are meaningless without context, as Fred was frequently the one sprinting all over the pitch and getting dribbled past far too easily. He was dribbled past on average 2.14 per game, which is far from great. Fred’s enthusiasm is admirable. However, even though it is frequently his duty, the fact that he needs to make a lot of tackles isn’t always a good thing. Fred’s passing this past season was decent enough, even in terms of progressive passes per 90, which he had 5.68. His pass completion was good with 88.6 out of 1084 passes, even though he does not strike one as the most composed player in possession.
Many United fans have openly requested to partner Donny van de Beek instead of Fred alongside McTominay. Fred’s performances justifies their appeal. Fred has appeared in 8 games in the season by far; starting 7 of those with a goal to his name. Fred had an impressive outing off the bench against Villarreal in midweek. The 28-year-old provided the cross that contributed to the dramatic 95th-minute winner from Ronaldo. However, he struggled against the Toffees. He lost possession on 10 occasions during his 70th minutes on the field. He won just three of his seven ground duels while being dribbled past twice, including in the build-up for the Everton goal.
He has marked 84% success rate out of 356 passes. His defensive numbers stand as 2.5 tackles per game, 0.83 interceptions per game & 1.17 clearances per game and booked twice. He has stood out with standout performances in the past, but his positional awareness has been questionable in recent times.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently backed his choice to start Scott McTominay and Fred together, and there will be plenty of critics towards his decision-making after today. The Red Devils will need a considerable improvement defensively after the international break if they are to make a serious challenge for the Premier League title this season.