Sitting down with Fred
Speaking to United Review ahead of last weekend's trip to Everton, Brazilian midfielder Fred reflected on his own standout moments this season, and reaffirmed the need for the Reds to keep battling until the very last kick of the campaign…
Firstly Fred, although it was frustrating to draw against Leicester in our last home game, you must have been delighted to score on your 100th Premier League appearance…
"First of all it was a genuinely frustrating result. We really wanted to win, but it wasn't possible. But I was really happy to have scored in my 100th Premier League game. It's a really important milestone for me. I want to continue helping the team by scoring goals. I also want the team to be happy, winning games and meeting our objectives."
Talk us through the goal – it wasn’t an easy finish – it was an instinctive drive into the top corner…
"The pass into Bruno was supposed to be an assist, almost an assist for Bruno. When I saw that [Kasper] Schmeichel had saved it, pushing it to one side, I instinctively shot high as I'd seen how quickly he’d recovered. I scored and it was an important goal for my career. It was important for the team as it was an equaliser, though we wanted to have scored more. As I said, it was a really important goal for me. I hope to continue helping the team by scoring goals."
Can you pick out a couple of stand-out matches from those 100 Premier League games?
"That's tough, as it's difficult to choose a specific game from the one hundred I played in. I think a special game was this season against Crystal Palace, when we won 1-0. It was a great atmosphere, we won and I scored the winner. I think it was a standout game. I also remember the derbies, beating City 2-1 away was a great game. There are a lot of historical games to remember, and it's really important for my career to have reached 100 games."
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See how Fred has been directly involved in six goals from 13 Premier League appearances under Ralf Rangnick...
When you look at the Fred playing in his first PL game to you now – how much have you changed as a player?
"Man, from the first game to today I've changed a lot. In all aspects, the first game was against Leicester, we won 2-1 at Old Trafford. It was my first game in a totally different league to what I’d been used to. I wasn't fully aware of things, I played well in that game but didn't play that many games in my first season. Thankfully I adapted well in my second season, today I believe I'm an important part of the team. I'm really happy, I've changed everything even the way I play on the pitch, you have to adapt well. It's an honour for me to complete 100 games in a United shirt in the Premier League. I hope there's many more to come."
What’s pleased you most about your form in recent weeks and this season overall?
"I'm very pleased with my performances and the season I've been having. The start of the season was a bit tough for me as I'd come from the Copa America with the Brazil National Team. I missed pre-season, so I wasn't up to speed with the rest of the team in the first few games. I recovered by working hard here at the club and with my trainers at home. Thank God I'm doing really well today. I feel really good here at United and with the Seleção. I hope to finish the season strongly."
You’ve really added goals to your game this season – which goal have you enjoyed most and why?
"Crystal Palace, as I said before, and a great goal against Leeds as well. We won 4-2 away and it was an important goal to change the game. I think when the goal is important, changing the game and result, it makes it more satisfying. I think they were my two most important goals this season."
You’ve also chipped in with some great assists. Cristiano thanked you for his Goal of the Month assist – what are your memories of that?
"It was a great assist, a bit of skill flicking it to the side. Cristiano was astute, hitting a tremendous shot for a great goal. I'm really happy to be providing assists and scoring goals. As I said before, I want to help my team-mates regardless of assists and goals. It's about giving my all running on the pitch, I want to help get the win, I hope this continues working for us."
You’ve been directly involved in six goals under Ralf Rangnick for United, with only Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo (seven each) involved in more. You played in a role further forward at times – how much have you enjoyed that and what has Ralf asked you to do that is different?
"The manager is always talking to me, telling me to work between the lines to find space behind the opposition's midfield. That's where I play for the Brazilian Seleção as well, sometimes a bit further back. I like playing there to contribute with goals and assists. I think it's my preferred position, closer to goal, carrying the ball a bit, playing passes into my team-mates to score. I think I've adapted well in the position in the team. The manager is always encouraging me to put in big performances and play important passes to help the team. Confidence is everything, and I hope to keep it up."
How similar is the role above to the role you play for Brazil?
"Very similar, it depends a lot on the game as well. I've been playing further forward in this last international break. In the game against Chile I played further up the pitch almost up alongside the centre-forward. I'm used to playing there, it's great. It's my best position, I can receive the ball on the turn and provide assists for my teammates. My role is very similar to the one I play in the Seleção."
Your club form has also seen you called up for your country again – how enjoyable has that been? You played a big part in getting them to the World Cup…
"I'm delighted to have been a part of the squad in these last few games. Being able to help my team-mates, or rather, my country go to the World Cup. I hope to continue playing well here, it's essential that I play well here at United to be called up to the Brazil squad. I have to be mentally strong here so I can return to the Brazil team. The World Cup is round the corner as well. I have to be at my best to be called up and have a great World Cup."
Your good friend Alex Telles has been back in the Brazil squad as well...
"I'm delighted he's back in the national team. He's a real fighter always working hard for his place. I'm really happy for him, he just had a great game for Brazil against Bolivia. I hope he can maintain this form here, so he's always called up to the Seleção."
Back to United and we’ve seen you alongside a few team-mates in midfield this season – Scott, Paul, Nemanja…
"They are high-quality players and it allows us to rotate a lot. Sometimes Bruno can play in a central midfield duo. It depends a lot upon what the manager wants from the game. It's great to have a full squad, all the players together in peak condition. Giving the manager this dilemma really helps the team. He can choose who's on the pitch and I'm certain that whoever is selected will do their best to get the win."
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Your good friend Bruno Fernandes recently signed a new deal – how pleased are you for him and how important is he for the team?
"He's really important. He's one of our leaders here. We know what he's capable of, what he did and the impact he had when he arrived here, the impact he has on the team and players. I'm really pleased about his new contract. I hope he can make the most of it and continue here for many years. I hope he has a successful career here with us and we can win a lot of trophies together."
How important is it that we fight until the very end in the league, and what will be key over these last few coming games?
"The key thing is for us to be united as a group, together on the pitch. We're aware of the difficult period we're going through. We know the challenge the next few games represent. If we're united, together as a group I'm sure we'll achieve this. We have world-class players who can make the difference on the pitch at any time. We need to play together, we need to be compact and listen to the manager, train well during the week. This is all key for us going into the weekend and for the remaining eight or nine games. Win the games and meet our objective. In order to do this, we need to fight together as a team."
How important will the fans’ support be in the last few games and how determined is everyone to win as many games as possible for them?
"I know the fans wanted much more from this season, they wanted us to go further in all competitions, the cups and the Champions League. We could have gone further, but I'm sure the fans will support us throughout, we know they're behind us. We'll aim to do our best so that they will be alongside us. We want them to be behind us constantly, shouting, celebrating every goal. I'm sure they'll be with us in the forthcoming games."
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Talking of the fans, the squad will have the opportunity to play in front of some of our global fanbase when we go on tour to Asia and Australia – how much are you looking forward to that experience, especially as Covid had put our tours on hold for the last two years?
"It's been difficult because of Covid, it made things difficult for everyone. I'm sure it will be a great pre-season with all our fans with us. We have a lot of fans across the world, Thailand, Australia. I hope the fans can join us on tour and have a great time, supporting us as they always do."
We’re coming up to that time of year when voting for Player of the Season will begin soon – who gets your vote?
"Me! [Laughs] It's difficult... we have great players who have had a good season - I could vote for Cristiano, Bruno... but for me the best player this season has been David De Gea. He's had a sensational season, he's been there whenever we’ve needed him."
Finally, how do you reflect on your season as a whole and what are your aims for the future with the squad?
"I think for me personally it's been a good season, individually speaking. I think I grew as the season progressed, scoring more goals and providing assists. As a team we know we need to improve a lot, it was well below what we wanted for this season. We've still got the goal of achieving a Champions League place, but we wanted to go further. We want to create a great project and squad to win trophies again, and put United back on top where they have always been."