Many Manchester United followers have been fearful when the pre-match squad information forward of the important thing Premier League fixture towards Tottenham began to emerge on Saturday afternoon.
The squad had travelled individually to the bottom as a substitute of as a part of a single coach, guaranteeing a protracted wait to see who was out there for the sport after rumours of sickness and David de Gea returning a false-positive check end result for COVID-19.
And these supporters’ worst fears got here true when Bruno Fernandes’ absence as a result of sickness was confirmed forward of kick-off at Old Trafford.
Despite not hitting the heights with objectives that he hit final season, he has nonetheless been United’s most artistic participant this season and an necessary participant for the staff when their backs have been towards the wall. A six-pointer within the race for the highest 4 with Spurs actually met that description and defeat would certainly have ended any probabilities of the membership qualifying for the Champions League by the league.
Given Fernandes’ absence, Ralf Rangnick was pressured to play a midfield three mixture lining up collectively for the primary time this season. Nemanja Matic was deployed because the lone six with Paul Pogba and Fred as twin eights both aspect of the Serb.
Many followers would have anticipated on this setup that Pogba would steal the headlines given his capability for being a matchwinner on this United aspect. But the Frenchman gave the impression to be continuously focused by the Spurs midfield and by no means actually get going as he was intently shackled by Rodrigo Bentancur.
But whereas Spurs have been so targeted on stopping Pogba, they appeared to overlook about Fred and the Brazilian was allowed to roam free because of this. It proved to be a part of their undoing.
Most United followers know what Fred presents from a defensive perspective and he demonstrated that clearly towards Spurs, closing down the opposition and placing them underneath strain to move. He additionally closed down passing lanes to restrict the guests’ choices in possession and stop counter-attacks at supply.
But it was in possession that was probably the most stunning (and pleasing) side of his efficiency. In the previous, the first criticism levelled at Fred has centred on his ball management however towards Spurs, each first contact was exact and he even nutmegged the sluggish Bentancur at one level whereas driving ahead with the ball.
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His help for Cristiano Ronaldo’s aim was additionally instance of how assured he has turn out to be underneath Rangnick, as his skilful flick left the Portuguese in acres of area outdoors the field earlier than placing the ball sweetly previous Hugo Lloris’ despairing dive from speculative distance.
Many followers questioned whether or not Fred would survive at Old Trafford after the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the elimination of the ‘McFred’ partnership nevertheless it appears underneath Rangnick he’s persevering with to go from power to power.
There are nonetheless defensive deficiencies and different query marks surrounding this United staff underneath Rangnick however amid the pre-match setback of dropping their chief creator, Fred confirmed that United’s earlier overreliance on Fernandes could also be at an finish. Ronaldo was the important thing beneficiary.