Manchester United extended their unbeaten start under new interim manager Ralf Rangnick to three games with a hard-fought victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road in this evening’s Premier League clash.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s 75th-minute penalty was the only goal in an evenly-contested affair, with the Red Devils lucky to come away from Norfolk with all three points.
The first half passed without much incident as Rangnick’s charges struggled to find any attacking rhythm and Alex Telles’ deflected free-kick was the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
Meanwhile, David de Gea was forced into two fine stops from Teemu Pukki and Ozan Kabak following the interval, but the hosts ultimately lacked the quality to carve open their below-par opponents.
The game’s deciding moment came when Max Aarons hauled down Ronaldo inside the 18-yard box when defending a cross, and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner made no mistake from the spot.
However, despite the 36-year-old’s match-winning strike, it was arguably Fred who was Rangnick’s real hero during a laboured display.
As per SofaScore, the Brazil international received a match rating of 7.9 out of 10, the highest tally awarded to any outfield player on either team.
When looking at his underlying numbers, it’s easy to understand why. Throughout the 90 minutes, Fred had a whopping 81 touches, produced a passing accuracy of 91% and successfully completed both of his dribbles.
However, it was his off-the-ball work which really caught the eye against the Canaries. The 28-year-old won 11 of his 12 duels (92%), pulled off seven tackles and made one interception, highlighting his hugely effective display.
The Brazilian has had his critics in the past, with BBC pundit Martin Keown once stating that “it’s almost becoming a joke” whenever Fred was in possession of the ball. However, the narrative was rather different this evening.
Manchester Evening News reporter Samuel Luckhurst was equally as impressed with Fred, awarding him a seven out of 10 in his player ratings with the commentary that he was “the most disciplined of the front six, Fred also bailed out Lindelof with one challenge inside his own area. Quietly effective.”
It was an underwhelming evening for United, but there were a handful of positives from which Rangnick can take confidence going forwards, and Fred’s display was one of them.