The Brazilian, making his first start of the season, struck the woodwork with an excellent strike in a first-half which saw him look to feed the ball through channels.
And in a second period when the goals did not seem to come, it was another one of those incisive, skimming balls from Fred which found Mason Greenwood, who made no mistake with a sharp finish – his first for the Man United senior side.
Fred‘s numbers from the game tell the story of a player who was constantly ticking.
Fred’s game by numbers vs. FC Astana:
most passes (128/136)
most final third passes (43/49)
most ball recoveries (15)
most chances created (3)
2nd most interceptions (3)
most assists (1)
An impressive display. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/wqLPCK7HQd
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 19, 2019
In a game like that, with Astana sitting deep and the ball going seemingly nowhere, with Nemanja Matic and many others making incorrect decisions at close quarters, it can often feel like that pass will never come, that the route to the goal will remain indefinitely closed off.
Indeed, in moments like that, you need a football brain like Fred‘s – somebody whose default mode is to play forward, invite players into the game, work the ball into gaps which may or may not be there.
Tonight was Greenwood’s night, but it was also a vindication of what Fred can bring to this uninspired United midfield.