Manchester United have made many mistakes since Sir Alex Ferguson retired back in 2013, although arguably the largest errors have been in the transfer market.
When the legendary Scottish manager finally called it a day eight years ago, his trusted associate and former United chief executive David Gill followed suit in the same summer, leaving a significant void in the club’s boardroom.
Gill was largely responsible for the Red Devils recruitment during his time at the helm and that responsibility was then passed onto Ed Woodward, a former banker with minimal previous experience in the world of football transfers.
The situation has led to some rather baffling and frustrating ongoings in the market for United’s supporters in recent years, but one acquisition has exasperated the fanbase more than most.
However, he’s so far failed to live up to the expectations placed upon a player with such a sizeable price tag.
For a long time, it was unclear what Fred’s best role was or even what his best attributes were, and former United star Gary Neville was one of many pundits to criticise the South American during his maiden campaign on English shores.
“Fred at £50m, he started the first game of the season, and he looked bright, he looked tidy — but does he look like what you would expect for £50m?” the Sky Sports pundit said on the Gary Neville Podcast (as relayed by the42).
“Does he change a game? Does it look like he’s going to defend your goal? Does it look like he’s going to connect back-to-front? At this moment in time, no.”
But since then, Fred has made considerable improvements to his game. Last season, no United player averaged more tackles than the now 28-year-old’s three per league fixture, while only Luke Shaw bettered his tally of 1.8 interceptions, as per WhoScored.
His development hasn’t been enough to win over all of his critics, though, and ex-Aston Villa captain Gabby Agbonlahor was quick to slam the combative midfielder following another underwhelming display over the weekend.
“I say it every time I see him play, (Scott) McTominay is the better version of Fred, definitely, but every time Fred gets the ball he gives it away – sloppy passes when they’re trying to build attacks,” Agbonlahor said on TalkSPORT.
Fred’s largely disappointing form during his three-year stay at Old Trafford has seen his market value plummet to just £19.8m despite him being in the prime years of his career.
Arguably, the engine room operator is really a victim of his price tag, and if Woodward hadn’t overpaid for his services by such a large amount, then he wouldn’t be expected to do so much on the pitch.
But ultimately, he’s struggled to make the desired impact at United, and his purchase is one of many nightmare dealings that Woodward has overseen.