How Manchester United ‘flop’ Fred turned his career around this season

(Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) /

How £52 million man Fred has turned his reputation around at Manchester United, with the help of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and star-signing Bruno Fernandes.

Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos, or Fred, has been an unexpected star in what has been a poor season for Manchester United.

The Brazilian was signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for an astonishing £52 million in the summer of 2018. A signing that left United fans very happy after it was reported that Noisy-Neighbours Manchester City also were keen to sign the midfielder back in the January transfer window. It was also only the second signing in what had been a lack-lustre transfer-window for the Red Devils. The other acquisition being young full-back Diogo Dalot. Who had shown promise in Porto’s youth setup, but was never going to be a starter immediately due to his lack of experience at the top level.

Fred was known as a box to box midfielder with that Brazilian flair that United had been missing for years. Ander Herrera was in and out of the squad due to injury, Nemanja Matic had dropped of significantly after a promising start to life at Manchester United and Paul Pogba was still struggling to find his feet at the Theatre of Dreams and despite winning the World Cup with France, he was still out of favour with Jose Mourinho.

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Fred’s United career started off brilliantly with a Player of the Month nomination after his first three games and although United had a tough start losing two of these games Fred looked very promising.

United’s poor start to the season continued, losing game upon game. With Fred’s performances dropping off. United fans started to question the signing which lead Jose Mourinho to come out and say that he ‘never wanted’ the Brazilian. Explaining that he only sanctioned the deal because he feared that the club wouldn’t sign another player if he turned him down.

By December, Mourinho was sacked, Fred was on the bench being labelled a ‘flop’ and United fans were heading into the Christmas period wondering where it all went wrong.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose on an interim basis, and led United to an excellent few month of form, peaking when they turned around a 2-0 deficit in the Champions League beating PSG on away goals with 8 first team players out. This was enough for United to award him with a three-year deal at the club. Fred was still yet to cement himself in the Starting XI, hardly featuring for Solsksjaer.

United ended the season with a sour taste after a poor spell of results saw them finish 6th, missing out on the Champions League places. United went on to spend big in the summer bringing in young winger Daniel James for £15 million, star full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £45 million and Leicester’s Harry Maguire for a record £80 million.

United started the season fantastically blowing Chelsea out of the water in the first game of the season winning 4-0. But things started looking blue for the Red Devils once again, picking up just 12 points in their first 10. Fred was still yet to make an impact.

As the season progressed, United started to pick up form once again at the start of 2020, with Fred being a shining light, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kept faith in him and performances started to turn around for him. This started with Fred dictating the big games, excellent performances against Man City both in the league and in the League Cup.

Fred’s form improved when he was utilised alongside Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic in a midfield three. With the absence of Paul Pogba, Fred played a similar box to box role to the Frenchman but with a more defensive focus.

The addition of Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes has seen Fred improve even more, winning the ball on the edge of the box, taking the ball forward and laying it off for Bruno to produce some magic. Many of us thought Fred’s United career was coming to a close, an unexpected turnaround. From ‘flop’ to ‘fans favourite’ and I can’t wait to see more of him when football resumes.

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Will Fred become a key player at Old Trafford?