Manchester United may have experienced lots of ups and down this season, but there’s a player whose form has come as a pleasant surprise for the Red Devils.
Following a €55m move from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2018, Fred struggled in his first year at Old Trafford, spending most of his time on the bench and working to adapt to English football.
But things went from water to wine since last summer. With 39 appearances this season so far, the Brazilian has arguably become the most reliable piece in Manchester United’s midfield.
Unfortunately for him, it was at his peak that the Coronavirus crisis stopped the Premier League, putting a break on what could’ve been the best year of his career. Speaking to Sport Witness, he admits it saddened him a little.
“I always like to be playing, it’s my nature, so it does [bother me]. But there’s nothing we can do at that moment. The priority is people’s health. I try to focus to be ready to move on when things come back.”
Fred’s importance has a lot to do with the absence of Paul Pogba for most of the season. And since January, he has another great midfield partner, Bruno Fernandes, who’s had an impressive start with team.
That’s what makes Manchester United fans pretty keen to see the three of them in action together.
“Bruno fit the team very well and Paul is a very high quality guy, as everyone knows. I believe that we can fulfil a good role by playing together.
“But we cannot fail to talk about other athletes who add to the position. I believe that the more options we have, the stronger we will be.”
Since arriving at the club, Fred seems to have found a new era at Old Trafford, with the signings of Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno Fernandes all working out, contrary to the many flops in previous seasons. That’s why he believes the squad is on the right path for greater things.
“I hope so. The club bet on a youth base, bringing specific pieces for some positions. The sequence of Ole’s work has been important in this regard as well. I believe we had a chance of winning the Europa League and we’re going to look for more. United have good pressure to win titles constantly.”
The midfielder has only praise for teammate Harry Maguire, who was given the captaincy just a few months after his arrival.
“He’s a winning player with a consolidated history in English football. He’s also an exemplary teammate, things happened with great respect and naturalness.”
But what Fred really loves is to see youngsters coming into the team. That’s why when asked about players who’ve impressed him in training, he names two who came from the academy.
“We have a lot of academy players with a lot of quality. Mason has been playing, but the one that surprised me the most and whose style I like the most is James Garner.”
On the hardest grounds to play at in England, Fred highlighted the north-west clubs, regardless of it being a city derby or a trip to Merseyside.
“Playing in Liverpool is always complicated, whether against Liverpool or Everton. The fans there put a lot of pressure on.
“Derbies with City are also difficult matches, with a more hostile atmosphere. But our fans are always present, even in away games, it ends up helping us.”
That’s why he welcomes the upcoming tests for safe standing at Old Trafford.
“I find it interesting, the fans already help us a lot both at home and abroad. Our sector is always crowded. Any action to bring fans closer or make them more comfortable to support is welcome.”