Fred believes he belongs at Manchester United.
The Brazilian made only his second Premier League start of the season in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool, with Paul Pogba out nursing an injury and midfield options being light all season.
People have started jokingly comparing Fred’s problems to his compatriot, Klebersen, who was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signings. The fellow Brazilian had a go at adapting to life at Old Trafford after arriving in 2003 but left after just two seasons.
Fred, however, is determined not to end up the same way.
“My first season was difficult but that is normal when a footballer changes league,” he told the Telegraph. “The Ukrainian league isn’t as strong as the Premier League. It’s faster and more physical here.
“You need to start games strongly and finish them strongly. It’s the full force for 90 minutes, hut it takes time to adapt to English football when you come from Ukraine, even though I was playing against some of the best teams in the Champions League, but I believe I am adapting.”
Some players join clubs in different leagues and don’t bother to learn the native language. That’s not the case with Fred, who insists his family have also settled in Manchester.
“I’m learning day by day. I feel like I’m getting better. I have a big heart. I will play better,” he said. “I like Manchester. My family are here and they like it too. They are speaking English. I’m having English classes, too, but it’s not possible all the time because we travel a lot but we speak lots of languages here.
“I have a good relationship with the manager and the coaches. I speak to the coach [Mike Phelan] every day. And to Michael [Carrick] and Kieran [McKenna]. Michael played in my position — he knows what he is saying. They are always encouraging me and I feel the support of fans, too. And I thank them for that.”
Fred was granted time to miss the first half of United’s pre-season in order to get married on July 14. Far from ideal for a player who struggled in his first season — and one who Ole Gunnar Solskjaer probably was sure about going into the new campaign.
He will still need to be patient about game time as none of us have seen anywhere near enough to suggest he’s ready to be a definite starter most weeks.
It looks like he will get more game time between now and Christmas but we’re still hopeful for midfield signings.
Fred did better against Liverpool on Sunday. Still made mistakes, but gave United some tempo throughout the game — until the last 10 minutes when everything went out the window as we hung on for dear life.
“Personally, I’m happy now I played in my first ‘clasico’ against Liverpool,” he added. “We’re just all a little frustrated that we didn’t hold on to the lead, but we have to be encouraged.
“We played at a very good pace against Liverpool. We needed that, we haven’t started the league well, but we played with heart, we played with force, we attacked quickly, especially in the first half. The second half we continued well but it was more equal.”