UNITED Back trouble has left £52m Fred on bench
JOSE Mourinho has not been playing £52m signing Fred due to United’s defensive instability.
Fred, 25, has only started six of the Reds’ 15 Premier League fixtures and was dropped altogether from the squad for the midweek visit of Arsenal.
The Brazilian midfielder has not figured in any of the last four league games and has lost his place in the national team squad.
Mourinho started Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic in front of a five-man defence against Arsenal, as Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini were relegated to the bench. Fred is fit for a recall against Fulham today but Mourinho insists his priority is shoring up a defence which has let in 25 goals in 15 league matches.
“Step by step,” Mourinho said of Fred’s situation. “You have also other players in other clubs that needed their time and you have some of them that played even less than what Fred is playing.
“I think Fred, when the team is defensively stronger and doesn’t need in midfield people that is more worried in giving balance to the team than being involved in creation and attacking dynamic, the day we are stronger defensively, I think the horizons for Fred change completely.”
United were more intense and aggressive in attack during the draw with Arsenal as Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford lined up in a front three. The Reds have been outrun in all 15 of their league matches and Mourinho acknowledged that statistic as he noted the team’s improvement.
“Even the numbers, the stats that for me are not fundamental, but sometimes they support our feelings, our ideas,” Mourinho added. “Or sometimes a contradiction to it, but is just a confirmation with the numbers was the match where my team, the globality of my players, run more and run more with higher intensity, too.
“We press the ball more, put difficulties to the opponent, we were fast in our transitions. So we had that spirit, we had that mentality that brought our game to a good level, to a better level.
“There are special players with special characteristics and just to give you a couple of examples, [Ander] Herrera, [Marcus] Rashford are the kind of players that, even if their game is not phenomenal, that intensity, that desire, that sacrifice is always present. But I prefer to say the team as a team had that mentality.
“I know only two days is not easy [to recover] – Fulham in the same situation as us – but probably the way they are coming to play or try to play will not demand as much from them as us, but no excuses.”