Manchester United’s fine form since the restart should not be forgotten in light of a few disappointing results.
However, stars once excelling are now – unsurprisingly – on the wane after playing so much football in very little time.
One such player is Paul Pogba. Until United’s 2-2 draw with Southampton, the Frenchman was impressing alongside Bruno Fernandes.
Pogba may not have been scoring regularly but he was rediscovering his confidence while the Portuguese took the headlines. Yet recent matches suggest United’s record signing needs a rest.
In short, Pogba’s faltering form does not justify the exclusion of a player who shone in his absence.
Fred took time to settle at Old Trafford. But settle he did, with the Brazilian racking up 22 consecutive starts in the Premier League before football’s shut-down.
In that time, Fred fully justified his £47million price-tag (BBC), and some wondered if Pogba would even get back into United’s strongest starting XI.
He has done. However, his place should not be guaranteed. Certainly not when Fred could do a better job if he rediscovers his previous form.
Fred’s performance against Chelsea in the FA Cup was disappointing. And some may argue that he has wasted his opportunity to prove he is a better option than Pogba – even with the latter struggling.
However, it is unfair to suggest a player can simply return to his best form after playing a bit-part role for weeks.
Fred has only managed three substitute appearances in United’s last seven league games. Not exactly enough time to play his way back into form.
Just as overplaying Pogba has caused one problem for United, under-using Fred has caused another.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have brought Fred in for starts prior to the Chelsea clash.
With more bite in midfield, United may have already secured a top-four finish.
After all, Fred’s on-field relationship with Fernandes was arguably even more effective than Pogba’s in the brief time they got to play together.
United still have it all to play for. But Solskjaer has not always made the right choices with his team selections and it shows in their points total.
Getting the best out of all his players is a tricky balance. When it comes to Fred, he is too good to ignore if Pogba continues to struggle.
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