Fred has contributed to five Manchester United goals in his last six starts

Fred has divided opinion ever since was bought by Manchester United in 2018 for a costly sum of £47 million.

Saturday’s match away at Aston Villa was a microcosm of Fred’s time at United, some positive, some negative, and generally not helped by a lack of top quality around him in the club’s constantly below par midfield.

Fred did not cover himself in glory for Villa’s first goal as Tyrone Mings glided through United’s porous midfield, and his failed interception guided the ball towards Jacob Ramsey who went onto score and inspire a comeback.

Look, we all know Fred’s limitations, and his error really did not come as a surprise. What has been a surprise, is the positive attacking contributions he has made in his last six starts.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images


Fred’s impact in the final third

In Fred’s last six starts against Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Newcastle and Aston Villa (twice), Fred has an impressive five goal contributions.

  • Three assists (vs Arsenal, Aston Villa x 2)
  • One penalty won (vs Arsenal)
  • One goal (vs Crystal Palace)

With goals not exactly flowing in recent weeks, Fred’s contributions have been vital, setting up a winner against Villa in the FA Cup, and Bruno Fernandes’ second goal at the weekend. His goal against Palace was also the decisive strike.

Fred was left out entirely against Wolves, as he was against Burnley, and he was missed in a game United lost 1-0.

What United are getting in recent weeks, has been a player more similar to the one which plays for Brazil, with Fred being given more license to press higher and get further forward.

When Fred is providing positive attacking contributions like this, it makes up for some of the deficiencies he has defensively. United are not exactly blessed with options, and if it were Paul Pogba making this type of attacking contribution from open play, it would be gaining a lot more attention. Instead because it is Fred, it goes ignored by the media.

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

United fans have been calling for a new defensive midfielder to be signed, and this could work to Fred’s benefit, freeing him up to get higher up the pitch and continue to make contributions like he has been, with less risk defensively.

Some see, and will always see, Fred as symptom of United’s issues rather than part of a solution, and while that’s probably right long-term, in the short-term he looks set to continue to have a pivotal role in the Red Devils squad and starting line-up. If he keeps on contributing in the final third like he has been, he might win a few people over.

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