In the opening weeks of the season, it was difficult to see why Manchester United had spent a reported £52m on Fred.

He struggled to impress and when he did not get off the bench against either Burnley or Watford, alarm bells were beginning to ring.

Jose Mourinho has done this before with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Victor Lindelof. Both big-money signings spent many of their early weeks at the club on the sidelines; but soon an adjustment period becomes a long-term snub which brings about a lack of match sharpness. Suddenly, the season is a write-off.

But Fred was brought back into the United line-up for the trip to face Young Boys, and grabbed his chance to shine.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

When Fred was brought to the club, it was imagined his energy could provide the link between Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba.

That was exactly the role he was given last night and he flourished. He was everywhere; pressing the Swiss outfit as it became clear United would overwhelm them.

Then adding the passing option in the centre that was missing when Marouane Fellaini played at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

He set up Pogba’s stunning opening goal; involving himself in an intricate passing move around the edge of the box before teeing up the Frenchman to rifle home on his swinger.

(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

 

That was one of two key passes he made in the match. He also swung in six crosses, more than any other United player on the night.

As United poured forward on the break – they should have had more than Anthony Martial’s deflected goal to show for their second half display – Fred’s energy was a key element.

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He is still a tad excitable, with improvement needed on his end-product. A first United goal would be welcome, sooner rather than later.

But for the first time, Fred showed what he can bring to the table. Marouane Fellaini received heaps of praise after the past two matches; but the Brazilian more embodied what many would expect to see in a Manchester United midfielder. His season is off and running.