Early Signs Look Positive for ‘Enabler’ Fred at Old Trafford
The hyperbole spouted by the UK tabloid media over the summer suggests Manchester United are a club in crisis. Most of the furore surrounds a (relative) lack of transfer spending, although, admittedly, much of this has been fuelled by the grumbling of manager Jose Mourinho in various press conferences across preseason.
Of course, the reality is that United’s transfer spending surpasses all but a handful of clubs across the globe. Mourinho is upset that the Red Devils have only spent around £70,000,000 this summer, or around 50% more than the combined total of all Brazilian top flight clubs last year. It’s certainly normal for clubs to want the best new players each summer, but for United it’s been an obsession since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Fred has impressed in preseason games
There are signs, however, that Mourinho and the fans are happy with the most significant bit of transfer business completed this summer – the acquisition of Frederico “Fred” Rodrigues de Paula Santos for £52 million. The 25-year-old joined in June before heading to the World Cup with Seleção, although United fans were disappointed not to get a glimpse of their new man in Russia.
The lack of minutes in Russia meant that Fred was able to join up with the United squad on their preseason tour of the United States much earlier than expected. To be frank, his presence was much needed, as the Premier League side was heavily depleted throughout the tour.
Pereira also has bright future
The good news for United is that Fred seems to have found his rhythm in the side almost right away. Fans and pundits have been impressed with the former Shakhtar Donetsk man, citing his tackling, doggedness and tenacity as his best attributes. In particular, there was plenty of admiration for his link-up play with Brazil U23 player Andreas Pereira, another who impressed in pre-season.
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But, Fred brings something else to the team, something that United fans who long for a return to the scintillating football of the Ferguson years are keen to point out: an ability to play the ball forward, with speed. For a number of years now United’s build up play has been slow and ponderous, especially in transitional phases between defence and attack. Fred has given fans a glimmer of hope that he can enable these transitions.
United title odds have risen over the summer
In truth, United look like they need all the help they can get in the Premier League this season. Manchester City are given odds of just 4/6 to win the league by Bet365, with hated-rivals Liverpool made second-favourites at 4/1. United’s odds of 7/1 are among the biggest they have been ever given before a season kicks off. Thus, according to bookmakers, United have a lot of catching up to do. It might be a little closer than that though, so cover any outlay with free bets using these Bet365 offers.
It’s not abundantly clear how Fred will slot into the side, or if the Brazilian’s arrival will prompt a change in formation from Mourinho. His on-field relationship with Paul Pogba is going to be crucial to United beating those odds mentioned above, as will the link up with Nemanja Matic at the base of midfield. The signs, however, look good so far, suggesting United have signed an intelligent, dynamic player who can breathe new life into the side. Will it be enough?