Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Fulham yesterday secured a third-place Premier League finish and point haul of 75 in Erik ten Hag’s first season in charge at Old Trafford.
Somewhat under the radar was Fred, who has found himself on the fringes of the first team in recent weeks. This was the Brazilian’s second start in 13 Premier League matches, with Ten Hag preferring Christian Eriksen and, at various points before his injury, on-loan Marcel Sabitzer.
He relished the opportunity and was crucial to Man United overturning Fulham’s 1-0 lead in the first half.
Fred’s pressure on the Cottagers’ backline led to panic among the defenders, allowing the ball to fall perfectly for Sancho to finish.
The midfielder may not have been credited with an assist for the goal, but it simply does not happen without his energy and relentless intensity.
He made four successful tackles – more than any player on the pitch bar Malacia (also four) – and registered an interception. Fred also managed to commit four fouls without getting booked, slowing the opposition down with a couple of clever nibbles.
But the Brazil international was also at his creative best, completing more key passes (5) than any player on the pitch aside from Bruno Fernandes, who registered one more.
The Portugal star got his goal from a Fred assist, an excellent reverse pass to slip the vice-captain through on goal.
It was a complete performance from Fred, and the sort of display that may force Ten Hag to rethink his team selection for the FA Cup final against Manchester City.
The fact that the midfielder was withdrawn shortly before the hour-mark would suggest that the manager is considering starting him in Man United’s biggest match of the season.
(All stats via SofaScore)
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