Graft and craft: Fred's brilliant second season
With crisis comes opportunity. In a season when United’s midfield ranks have been depleted by injury for long periods, Fred has taken the chance to show his worth in the engine room.
“Unfortunately, last season, my first for United, wasn’t that good… a settling-in period,”reflected the Brazilian.
“This season has been excellent, great for me. I’m really happy to have had this consistent run in the team; it’s been really important for me to go on to the pitch and make a contribution. I think I’ve grown and improved.”
“I’m very pleased with Fred,”said boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently.
“He’s a top, top performer. All the supporters can see now why we believe in him. He covers every blade of grass and wins challenges. Of course, he is more confident on the ball. He’s had the confidence of the coaching staff, me and players all the time. This form is down to him. He’s been working really hard and he’s already grabbed the chance with both hands when Paul got injured.”
“Fred demonstrated the importance of not rushing to judgement when new overseas players are signed. The Brazilian brought energy and leadership to United’s midfield, navigating through the confined spaces to link with attack. United’s record away from home this season has not been good but Fred has delivered in unexpected places, also engineering the win at Norwich.”
Trading life with Shakhtar for a bigger club in a tougher league, with new language barriers and a baby on the way, plus a managerial change just over the horizon, the Brazilian’s first-season assimilation was never likely to be straightforward.
“Diogo [Dalot] and Andreas [Pereira] are the two that help me every day with the language and I have good chats with them, so they’re my best friends at the club,”while he has put his improving English to good use as he explores his new surroundings.
“I’m an inquisitive guy,”he continues.
“I like to check things out, go to parks, restaurants, travel around by car and check out places I haven’t been to before, and I’ve already discovered many things in Manchester and around the UK that I really like. When I had time I went by car to Wales as it’s nearby, and I also drove to London. I think Manchester is a great city, the UK is a great place and I’m settling in well here and really enjoying myself.”
“For me, family is everything and it is completely linked to football,”he says.
“Through football I’ve been able to help out my family, so it has all come together and it all fits together. Fatherhood is another stage in my life. It’s an important step I’ve taken; a big responsibility, but Benjamin brings me only joy.
“It helps that so many of the lads in the dressing room have had kids. We’re always talking about them among ourselves, discussing what it’s like at home with our families, how all our kids are getting on, and it’s nice for us all to be doing it at the same time.”
See how Fred scored the winner in trainingVideo
“It’s great to play next to him,”noted Matic, while Scott McTominay echoed:
“Fred is brilliant, we’re getting more and more understanding.”
Check out this lovely back-post volleyVideo
“Every player dreams of representing their country,”says Fred, who arrived at Old Trafford straight after partaking in Brazil’s 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia.
“I believe a player’s peak is when they go to a World Cup, called up by their national team. It’s a stand-out moment being selected for one, and it was one of the most important moments in my career.
“Unfortunately, last season I lost my place in the Brazilian national team. I wasn’t playing regularly here and was still in a process of settling in, but this season has been a lot more positive and I’ve had this continued run of games and I hope this carries on. I’ll continue to do my best and, of course, I hope to return to the national team.”
Fred's assist and two goals v Club BruggeVideo
“I hope that we can win a trophy in 2020,”he says.
“We have had some great games beating some big teams but then our performances have been very disappointing against some of the so-called smaller clubs. We need to keep improving. I’ll continue to do my best to help the team win games and I hope we can win a trophy in 2020.
“We need to set the right objectives. In the League we want to qualify for the Champions League, and get as close as possible to the leader at the top of the table as Manchester United can’t be far from the top of the table. In the cups, we should look to win the Europa League and the FA Cup, something we’re capable of doing. I want to win the trophies, I hope my first trophies for Manchester United come this season. We’re going to do everything possible to win these trophies.”