What's next for Fred after impressing for United against Astana?
Fred was rewarded for his impressive substitute appearance against Leicester, as he was given a start against Astana.
The Brazilian came out determined to make an impact, crashing a long range shot against the crossbar after just three minutes. This could have changed the game if it had gone in.
He made his impact in the 73rd minute, providing the pass for Mason Greenwood to twist and turn inside the penalty area before firing the winner into the back of the net.
Fred had come close himself 10 minutes earlier, attempting a curling free-kick on target which was well saved.
It was an encouraging first start of the season from the midfielder, who is yet to show his best form since signing for United for £47 million in 2018.
High numbers and criticism
Fred touched the ball more times than any player on the pitch, 155 times in total.
He made three interceptions, more than any United player, and created three chances, the highest of any player on show at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
He made 136 passes in total, completing 94 per cent. It was an accomplished display.
Despite this, former United striker Michael Owen was not impressed enough, telling BT Sport he still regarded Fred as ‘just a squad player’, The Mail reported.
It was a harsh comment, because this performance demonstrated that Fred has the desire and ability to be a first choice midfielder.
Solskjaer’s two options
The United boss has to assess the fitness of his players first and foremost, specifically Paul Pogba, while also seeing how Fred is holding up after this first start of the season.
Fred is now in contention to start against West Ham this weekend or start against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup next week. It is unlikely to be both.
Scott McTominay is certain to start against the Hammers, leaving questions as to who could partner him in midfield.
Potentially United could line up with McTominay, Fred, and Paul Pogba in an attacking position. This might be United’s strongest midfield three.
If Fred can step up this season then it would be a huge boost to United, with midfield seemingly a weak point.
Astana were very poor opposition, who United should have beaten more easily if we had been more clinical. But Fred’s showing at least demonstrated that he deserves more chances to show what he is capable of.
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