Solskjaer hints he regrets not playing Fred in Europa League final

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has suggested he regrets not starting Fred in Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal in May.

Fred picked up an injury against Fulham eight days ahead of the Gdansk showpiece.

Solskjaer selected Paul Pogba in central midfield alongside Scott McTominay, with Fred coming on in extra time for Mason Greenwood.

Speaking at his press conference ahead of the clash with Liverpool, Solskjaer said Fred made a speedy recovery from an injury which could have kept him out for two months.



“He’ll give everything he can to be there for us,” said Solskjaer of Fred, who could miss that Anfield clash.

“It showed for me when he got injured at the end of last season and it was supposed to be a six to eight week injury.

“He was back the day before the Europa League final. He fully joined the training session and we had to strap him up for the game.

“If I’d known before the game, maybe I would have played him. He would have sacrificed himself for the team, that’s for sure.”

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It is not quite clear what Solskjaer was getting at when he says ‘if he had known before the game’, but he has hinted that perhaps he regrets not selecting Fred from the start.

Solskjaer has history when it comes to asking players to play through injuries, and he may ask Fred to do the same on Sunday.

Fred came back from an injury which was supposed to keep him out for up to two months within a week.

That shows his commitment and fighting spirit, which Solskjaer clearly loves. He scored his shootout penalty and did not let United down.

Perhaps there is a wider question here about whether it is in the best interests of Fred, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford to push through injuries rather than get the chance to recover, but they are desperate to help the team and Solskjaer makes the most of that.

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Would Fred have changed the final?

The main issue with United in the final was the way their attacking play lacked tempo and intensity as the game wore on.

Fred has energy but one persistent criticism is his lack of creativity so maybe he would not have altered the course of the final.

It is also interesting that Solskjaer has suggested he would have started him but left it until the 100th minute to bring Fred on.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.