A first home defeat in five matches will have come as a bit of a shock for Manchester United, with Manchester City the beneficiaries.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side slipped up in their pursuit of silverware as they succumbed to a surprise 2-0 defeat to City at Old Trafford.
Despite a bright start from the Red Devils with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford wasting decent opportunities, the home side found themselves behind shortly after the break.
Fernandes forced a fine save from City goalkeeper Zack Steffen before United suffered a defensive lapse in concentration when John Stones latched onto a free kick from Phil Foden to open the scoring.
City added further gloss to their performance soon after as Fernandinho took advantage of some more slack defending to double their lead and put the game to bed.
Whilst you could pick many holes in Solskjaer’s side after a dreadful defensive performance from the hosts, it was Fred who massively let Solskjaer down after he lost his individual battles in the midfield for the most part.
The middle of the pitch is often one area in particular where many games are won and lost. Against their arch rivals, United were far too often outnumbered as City’s five-man midfield swarmed all over Fred, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba.
As per SofaScore, the 27-year-old was given a low grade of 6.4 out of ten for his efforts – lower than Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire – he lost possession eleven times, won only three out of a possible ten duels, was dribbled past once and committed two fouls to sum up his frustrations.
Deployed as a deep-lying midfielder, Fred struggled to get a foothold in the game, as he failed to record a single clearance or interception, as per SofaScore.
The Manchester Evening News were left unimpressed by his poor performance, giving him an average grade of 6/10 and claiming he ‘compromised United’s attacking fluidity,’ whilst The Sun seemed to agree, adding he ‘showed his frustration at times as the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden passed him by with precise passes.’
It’s no wonder he was replaced by new summer recruit Donny van de Beek in the 88th minute but by then it was too late to correct things. Both his teammates Pogba and Bruno Fernandes managed more tackles (2) than the Brazilian (1) as he couldn’t cope with the intensity.
As solid as United have looked when Fred has been in the side in recent weeks, Solskjaer will surely have to consider other options after his latest showing.