Home » Fred has an important role to play under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United

Fred has an important role to play under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United

Brazilian midfielder could be key in Arsenal clash

by David O'Neill

Fred has enjoyed improved performances this season after years of splitting fans’ opinions, with Erik ten Hag deploying him differently than his predecessors at Manchester United.

A part of that deployment has seen a reduction in the Brazilian’s playing time, with the infamous ‘McFred’ duo ousted by summer signings Casemiro and Christian Eriksen.

But that has given Fred a renewed importance as a squad player, with his boundless energy often used to see out matches and offer dynamism in midfield once Eriksen starts to tire in the second half of games.

He has also been used to counter specific threats, most notably against Manchester City, where his man-marking job on Kevin de Bruyne left Erling Haaland with a paucity of supply.

It is a role he may well be deployed in later today, where Arsenal’s chief playmaker Martin Odegaard could be negated by a little special attention from the form Shakhtar Donetsk man.

As pointed out by The Athletic journalist Carl Anka, the arrival of Casemiro has benefited Fred hugely this season.

The combination of Scott McTominay and Fred in recent years had often been turned to in order to provide some form of cover for a defence that has often buckled under pressure without a specialist holding midfielder in front of them.

With Casemiro screening the defence, Fred’s performances fit under the description of ‘all-action’ rather than ‘headless chicken’ as they once were known to do.

Fred is regarded in Brazil as a ‘segundo volante,’ a secondary midfielder with the freedom to contribute to all phases of play without being tied to a more specific duty. As a self-proclaimed “piano carrier” for the more artistic players in the team, Fred can be crucial in assisting his teammates around the pitch.

It is for that reason that he has often flourished with the Brazilian National Team, even while his form at Old Trafford has been suspect.

Now, with arguable the world’s finest ‘prima volante’ beside him, Fred is able to provide a valuable option to Erik ten Hag, even when the game state has presented difficulties.

Fred hasn’t actually changed all that much, but his teammates have helped his qualities shine through more consistently. As Anka puts it “His personal talent ceiling has remained the same, but around him the floor has risen.”

The question now will be how he fares without Casemiro, who is suspended for United’s trip to the Emirates.

Ten Hag may well be forced to resurrect the ‘McFred’ partnership, with Eriksen ahead of them and Bruno Fernandes out on the right, in order to somewhat mirror the gameplan that was so successful against Man City.

Will the floor around Fred sink and him with it? Or can the midfielder rise to the occasion without his international colleague beside him?

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