Solskjaer talks up Fred's performance after United win, why is it working?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told United’s website he was impressed with Fred’s performance against Norwich.

United won the game 3-1, and it could have been more if not for two missed penalties.

Fred started in central midfield alongside man-of-the-match Scott McTominay, who scored United’s opener.

Solskjaer said: “Fred was excellent, with Scotty. The two of them in the last two games we’ve played, against Liverpool and in this one.

“I’m delighted for Fred. He’s had a tough time but he’s improving and improving. He’ll be important for us as we’ve got some injuries.”


Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Severe criticism

Some of the criticism Fred received after the Alkmaar and Newcastle games was over the top.

Looking at his individual performances in those matches, they were below par, but you had pundits and newspaper columnists branding him as United’s worst ever signing, just over a year since his £47m move.

It was too much, after a couple of matches in which he had shown promise, against Leicester, Astana and Arsenal.

What Fred has shown is an ability to bounce back. Both in terms of performance and in character. He impressed against Liverpool last week, and again on Sunday at Norwich.

He managed seven tackles against Norwich, more than any player on the pitch barring Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Key role

Solskjaer needs Fred to step up. As he points out, he is low on alternative options.

Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba are out with injuries, meaning behind Fred it is just James Garner, with perhaps an option of also playing Andreas Pereira in a deeper role.

Garner will keep Fred on his toes, but for now, the Brazilian deserves to keep his place in the Premier League.

There are going to be ups and downs, and just like the criticism was over the top, we won’t get too carried away either. It’s just good to see him doing the basics right again.

Why is it working?

Against Norwich in addition to his tackling success, he had one shot on target, won three free-kicks, and completed 86 per cent of his passes.

He gave United just enough of what the team needed, and when the team around him is clicking, Fred can be effective.

Fred is a functional midfielder, a player with the ability to be a key part of a working machine. But when the parts around him are faulty, he tends to break down too.

Since the international break, United have experimented with formations, and benefitted from the return of Anthony Martial, while moving Andreas Pereira inside.

Pereira is linking midfield and attack well, making Fred’s job easier, and United have better shape with Martial up front, Rashford left, and James on the right.

With United getting the shape of the team right, holding the ball up better, and creating more chances, Fred isn’t being asked to do jobs he can’t.

This was one of his best games for us, and if Fred feels confident in a more well defined role in an effective team, he could really start to kick on and prove his critics wrong.

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