Home » Erik ten Hag has found the perfect role for Fred, the relentless Red

Erik ten Hag has found the perfect role for Fred, the relentless Red

by Ayantan Chowdhury


Manchester United had started the season under new manager Erik ten Hag in really poor fashion, losing two on the bounce in the Premier League as well as the opener in the Europa League.

And quite a few players were guilty of putting in disappointing performances in those games, most notably Fred.

The Brazilian has always been a divisive figure since his £52m move back in 2018. While there have been the occasional bright sparks, his general play has not been up to the standards fans have come to expect from a United midfielder.

Some of it has not been his fault. With the Glazers’ failure to address the need to bring in a proper defensive midfielder, Fred had to be paired up with Scott McTominay to bring some sort of balance to the squad.

Fred’s struggles

And the quality levels dropped massively, with both not bringing much in terms of creativity.

But as football fans around the world had seen, the 29-year-old never faced these questions while playing for his home country due to the presence of Casemiro.

And as luck would have it, the multiple Champions League winner decided to make the move to Old Trafford and thus, Fred finally got the perfect partner to show off what he is capable of.

Ten Hag tried to play him higher up the pitch against Real Sociedad, but once again, his skill-set does not involve him creating too much due to his sometimes erratic passing.

But since the World Cup break, United’s Dutch mastermind has found the perfect role for the Brazil international.

He has been introduced late on in games, with United requiring more energy to get a goal. And he has delivered and how.

From a goal against Nottingham Forest to a vital contribution for Marcus Rashford to grab the winner against Wolves, Fred has played his part to perfection.

That is because what Fred brings to the table is relentless pressing, non-stop running and the ability to pop up where he is required. Something, his coaches in the Brazilian set-up have referenced time and again.

Fred’s impact off the bench

And Ten Hag was full of praise for the kind of impact he had off the bench. “We emphasise a lot of times that we’ve often had players who score goals when they come on from the bench, like Fred did last week,” Ten Hag told club media.

“Every time when he’s coming on, he’s ready. He’s front foot and he brings the right quality to the game. That is great to have that as a team and as a manager.

“Of course, Fred wants to play every game but we need those players coming from the bench and giving impact to the game. Definitely, Fred is the one – there are others as well, but Fred is the example.”

Against opposition where there is no need to play as cautiously or against teams who have a tendency of being reliant on ball possession, Ten Hag has invariably turned to Fred.

Despite playing only 60 minutes, Fred put in one of his best displays of the season against Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals.

His performance saw him being named in the Team of the Round along with two-goal hero Rashford.

For naysayers who think it was easy considering their League One status, Ten Hag has opted to use the Brazilian in games against Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.

There is a school of thought emerging that against Manchester City in the derby this Saturday, Ten Hag should opt for the Brazilian midfield duo of Casemiro and Fred considering Christian Eriksen got overrun last time around.

ETH knows Fred’s importance

That in itself is vindication of the turnaround in Fred’s form this season. From being ridiculed to being in contention to start the biggest games, he has come a long way.

There are still rumours that he might be sacrificed in the next transfer window for someone of more quality but having a character like Fred in the dressing room, who does not complain and gives his all in every game is an asset worth having.

In Ten Hag we trust and he will have the final call on Fred’s contract, which is set to end in 2024. But the Dutchman seems to trust Fred and that is proof enough of his importance.

 



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