Manchester United v Everton: Match in pictures
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been handed an opportunity to replace ‘sloppy’ midfield ace Fred with the Brazilian midfielder set to be missing for United’s Premier League clash with Leicester in two weeks time.
The 28-year-old is set to feature against Uruguay, and United team-mate Edinson Cavani, next Friday – just hours before Solskjaer’s side travel to The King Power Stadium.
Fred’s absence means that Solskjaer will be forced to freshen up his midfield.
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The ex-Shaktar Donetsk man has started six of United’s seven league games so far this term – despite the midfielder being pelted with criticism from United fans and pundits alike.
Fred was slammed again for his role in the build-up to Andros Townsend’s equalising goal in United’s 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend.
And talkSPORT pundit Gabby Agbonlahor was scathing in his assessment of the ‘sloppy’ star.
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“[Scott] McTominay is a better version of Fred, just when Fred gets on the ball, he gives the ball away, sloppy passes. He kicks the ball out or to the opposition,” the former Aston Villa striker told talkSPORT.
“Even when he’s in there to win the ball back like [Everton’s] Allan and [Abdoulaye] Doucoure do, Fred just doesn’t do it. I just don’t see why he’s in that Man Utd team, I’d rather Lingard in there all day, give van de Beek a chance.
“There’s a lot of central midfielders that walk into that Manchester United team. John McGinn gets in that team.”
United fans have complained on social media numerous times this season over the pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay, dubbed ‘McFred’, being Solskjaer’s first-choice midfield pairing.
It remains to be seen if Fred’s absence could finally open the door for sidelined star Donny van de Beek.
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The former Ajax man impressed during a rare outing in the Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham last month and the majority of United fans are desperate to see the 24-year-old named ahead of Fred.
After assuring van de Beek that he was a pivotal part of his plans for this season, Solskjaer is running out of time to keep his promise to the frustrated star.
Van de Beek was visibly furious after the United boss brought Fred on ahead of him in the last-gasp Champions League win over Villarreal last month.
If the Dutch midfielder is handed a chance to impress against Leicester, then he’ll surely fancy his chances of dislodging Fred, who has now flattered to deceive for the majority of his three-year spell at Old Trafford.
He won’t have a better opportunity than the next couple of weeks to make that happen – if his manager allows that to happen.
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