Fred’s injury will impact Manchester United a lot more than people realize

When Fred left the field during the first-half of Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat away to Everton on Saturday, the entire United fanbase let out a deep sigh.

The eleven indifferent midfielder has transformed into a consistent performer this season, becoming arguably one of the club’s most impactful players. Fred began the fixture at Goodison Park with a chance of scoring in consecutive Premier League fixtures, having notched in United’s 1-1 draw with Leicester at Old Trafford last weekend.

The Brazilian’s equalizer against the Foxes was his eighth Premier League goal contribution in his last 14 appearances. When you compare that with his return of just four goal contributions in his 86 Premier League matches prior (as per Transfermarkt ), it’s clear to see that Fred’s development this season has been remarkable.

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United’s midfielder has not only improved his stats in the final third, he also looks more solid defensively. The appointment of interim manager Ralf Rangnick has aided Fred, and when you look closely at United’s Premier League fixtures since the German’s arrival, the Brazilian’s influence is telling.

Rangnick has taken charge of 17 Premier League matches since his appointment, winning eight, drawing six, and losing three. Of those 17 fixtures, Fred has featured in 14, with 12 starts.

United have only lost one match when Brazilian has played the full 90 since Rangnick’s arrival – the 4-1 loss to Manchester City at the Etihad. Of course, Saturday’s defeat on Merseyside was down to more than just Fred’s untimely injury, but you can’t help but think that losing the midfielder in the first-half hampered United’s chances.

In fact, in the 14 starts Fred has made under Rangnick, only City and Everton have recorded wins over United. Their third loss under the German came against Wolves at Old Trafford, where Fred did not feature. While defensively damaging, the absence of Fred looks likely to have a detrimental impact on United’s ability to gain three points, too.

Under Rangnick, United have not recorded a single win when the Brazilian midfielder has not featured – although they did record a 3-1 victory at Burnley when he came on in added time. The only other time United won when Fred did not start was the scintillating 4-2 away victory at Leeds.

Despite not starting, the midfielder made an impact off the bench, scoring a crucial goal to make it 3-2 before Anthony Elanga struck late to seal the win. There is no doubt that Fred’s attacking and defensive development has cemented his status as a key player for United this season and his absence from him will be sorely felt.

Following Tottenham’s emphatic 4-0 win away to Aston Villa on Saturday, United’s hopes of finishing in the top four hang in the balance. To keep up the pressure, Rangnick’s side needs as many wins as possible and if Fred’s injury proves to be serious, an already difficult task has just become all the more challenging.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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