Manchester United found the perfect player for a crisis – Tyrone Marshall


Tracing the thinking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer through his selections for Manchester United this season, it is clear that a line in the sand has been drawn at half-time for Tottenham’s horror show at Old Trafford start October. United were a down man and 4-1 against Spurs on this bleak Sunday and at halftime no one was thinking of winning the game. Instead, Solskjaer turned to Scott McTominay and Fred in an attempt to limit the damage, with United ultimately defeating 6-1.

This marked a turning point, Solskjaer giving up a more progressive midfielder for a bit more stability and it has worked well since, although there was again a glimpse of ambition midweek when Donny van de Beek fulfilled one of the deepest roles.

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There is no doubt that Solskjaer considers his ultimate firefighter the bundle of energy he turned to in a crisis: Fred. It’s a real transformation for the Brazilian, whose Old Trafford career seemed over before he even started under Mourinho.

The former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder was probably a little unhappy to find himself on the bench when last season resumed in June. He had started six times in a row before the lockout and when he started at Tottenham on June 19 it was the 22nd straight start he had made in the Premier League.

But that streak ended the next game and United’s way of winning 3-0 against Sheffield United, with Paul Pogba back to the side and flanked by Nemanja Matic, meant there was no turning back . Fred hasn’t started any of the last eight Premier League games and he hasn’t started any of the top three this season either.

As a crisis looms, it was Fred that Solskjaer turned to and he is unlikely to disappear from United midfielder anytime soon. He has started seven of the eight games since Tottenham won, the only game he hasn’t started was probably United’s second worst performance of the season losing 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir.

The 27-year-old could benefit from the fact that he isn’t marred by any association with either performance, but there can’t be many United players who have a better record than Fred this season. . He has started 10 games, of which United have won eight, drawn and lost one (to Arsenal at Old Trafford). It’s a team game, but this record as an individual has to mean something.

Fred has helped give the United midfielder a little more balance and he certainly adds energy. He’s the best presser in this midfielder and while he might not be a natural defensive midfielder, he’s one side of the game that is improving all the time.

Now the challenge for the Brazilian is to maintain and improve these levels of performance. He can feel he was done hard when he was dropped last season, but there shouldn’t be a repeat now.

The difficulties of his first season seem distant. Fred became one of Solskjaer’s most trusted lieutenants as times of crisis threatened to engulf United.


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