A better understanding of English and becoming more accustomed to life in the fast lane of the Premier League have been behind the rejuvenation of Fred at Manchester United this season.
The £ 54 million Brazilian looked set to be an Old Trafford flop after a disastrous first campaign at the club, but the midfielder has turned his United career around and has now established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Fred is set for his first 52 st consecutive start in the Premier League at Everton today and he will head to Goodison Park full of confidence after ending a 728 – game goal drought With a late double in the 5-0 rout against Club Brugge in the Europa League.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder has formed a formidable partnership with Scott McTominay this season and the influence of Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes has completed what looks like being Solskjaer’s first-choice midfield in the absence of Paul Pogba.
Solskjaer insists he never lost belief in Fred , who was the subject of much criticism and ridicule last season, and puts his improvement down this season, in part, due to a better grasp of English and greater integration with his teammates.
“He’s really taken on the challenge this season, he had a tough first season, but ever since we came in we’ve shown him that we believe in him, he’s known that, “said Solskjaer.
“He struggled a bit with the language last season, but with [strength and conditioning coach] Martyn Pert coming in, he’s fluent in Portuguese, so it’s easier for him to communicate.
“Fred’s English is better, he’s got used to English football, you don’t have three or four touches, you have to play much more one and two touch, don’t get your studs on the ball, all th ose little habits that Brazilian players have from a slower type of game. “
The penny has evidently dropped this year and the 26 – year-old has recovered from a delayed start to pre-season, having returned late after getting married in Brazil, to become one of United’s more influential figures this season.
“With your teammates, he had two or three that he was close to, but now we’re more of a close unit, the groups are closer to each other and his English has really improved, “said Solskjaer.
” He’s a top lad, a top human being, professional, he works hard. The season started a bit slow for him because he came a bit later.
“He got married, but that was because of the Copa America so it had to be planned, so he missed pre-season, but I’m delighted with him. “
Fred is expected to be part of that midfield against the Toffees today in what is a crucial game for United’s top four ambitions. The seven-game unbeaten run in all competition is the longest since the 26 – game streak when Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018 and this rich vein of form has catapulted them back into the Champions League discussion, while also prolonging their interest in the FA Cup and Europa League.
“We feel we’re in good form at the moment and we feel Sunday is going to be a massive game for us because Everton, of course, want to be in the challenge as well, “added Solskjaer.
” So it’s a big game, big test, how far have we come? Brugge are the only team in the last seven games who have scored against us so hopefully we can keep the clean sheets going and hopefully score a goal.
“We want to get into the top four. That’s been the aim this season and whatever happens with the others, we can’t concern ourselves about. We have to improve. We know we have to improve and that has to be our focus because in the end we want to challenge for the top. “