Christian Eriksen’s injury at the end of last month was an unwelcome blow for the player and for Manchester United.
We wrote at the time that Fred might be ideally placed to step up and replace the Dane, who has been ruled out until April.
The idea of Fred replacing Eriksen was treated with some scepticism though, and there was more excitement about Marcel Sabitzer’s loan arrival.
The move for Sabitzer itself showed Erik ten Hag wasn’t ready to go ‘all in’ on Fred and wanted extra depth, which was quickly needed with Casemiro’s suspension.
Fred steps up
Fred has certainly delivered. His crucial goal in the 2-1 victory against Barcelona came amid a fan voted man of the match performance.
The midfielder has split opinion ever since he joined. But everybody understands now, that when Fred is good, he’s very good.
In his last eight games, Fred has six goal contributions. This includes an assist and a goal in each leg against Barcelona.
This is even more than Bruno Fernandes, who has five goal contributions during this span. Marcus Rashford leads the way with eight in eight.
Fred has given United what the team needed with Christian Eriksen going out. He had played a fraction of the minutes Eriksen had, and his freshness has given the side a real jolt of energy.
Against Barcelona he was magnificent, described by Erik ten Hag as a ‘mosquito’ for the way he buzzed around the opposition.
He also has a crucial knack of contributing in the final third too. With five goals so far, this is Fred’s most productive ever season in front of goal, and he has four assists too.
United need him to keep doing what he has been. While there will be renewed competition from Sabitzer and Scott McTominay returning from injury, Fred has established himself now as the first choice partner to Casemiro.
If he keeps this up, Eriksen might even have a tough task to regain his place in the starting line-up at the end of the season.