A report has suggested a drawback of playing Cristiano Ronaldo is behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s insistence on making a decision Roy Keane cannot fathom.
The vast array of former Manchester United players now working in the media have generally opted against criticising Solskjaer. However, the tide has now begun to turn. Rio Ferdinand recently stated it could be time for the Norwegian to pass the baton to another manager.
That came after Keane expressed his disbelief at Solskjaer’s insistence on selecting Fred in his midfield.
Following the 2-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend, Keane fumed over the Brazilian. The Irishman raged: “Midfield… Fred. Fred’s playing for Manchester United. Fred!
“Anyone who tells me Fred is good enough for Manchester United is living in cuckoo land. And that is an important part of the football pitch. If Ole walked in here now, I’d grab him and I’d go, ‘why are you playing Fred?’
“For all managers have to make their own decisions, they work with the players day in day out, I would look at him and go, ‘why are you playing Fred in the middle of the park’, huge position for Manchester United.”
A report from Sky Sports (via the Mirror) has now offered a reason behind Solskjaer’s insistence on selecting Fred. What’s more, it may be directly related to a well publicised drawback of selecting Ronaldo.
They reveal Fred tops United in the statistical category of pressures per game on 51.7. Next in line is Bruno Fernandes (47.4), followed by Edinson Cavani (43.5), Jadon Sancho (37.7) and Marcus Rashford (35.6).
More tellingly, however, is Ronaldo’s number. The Portuguese icon averages the lowest of any United attacker with just 14.5 pressures per match.
Ronaldo’s lack of defensive effort has become the subject of fervent debate in recent months. While he may not do the running that Liverpool or Man City’s forwards get through, one thing cannot be argued, he is contributing where it matters most in front of goal.
But with his work-rate off the ball so low, the Mirror suggest Fred is continually selected to add balance. Another factor that would authenticate that theory comes from the absence of any other holding midfielders in United’s top five for the pressures statistic.
The article does qualify their theory by acknowledging another statistic that doesn’t make great reading for Fred. The Brazilian has been dribbled past 26 times in the league this season. That figure is second only to Everton’s Allan (33).
As such, it doesn’t appear Keane’s tune will change any time soon if Fred remains an automatic selection under Solskjaer.
Man Utd, Liverpool target handed ultimatum
Meanwhile, a Liverpool, Man Utd and Tottenham midfield target has been handed an ultimatum by Inter Milan over his current contract status, as a free transfer exit looms large in 2022.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Marcelo Brozovic looks increasingly likely to leave Inter as a free agent at the end of the season
The Croatia international sees his existing €3.5m-a-year deal expire at the end of the season. But despite Inter CEO Beppe Marotta being confident that Brozovic will eventually put pen to paper to stay, Inter are running out of time to get the deal done.
The 28-year-old already has a number of clubs queuing up for his signature, including the Premier League trio.
The Nerazzurri want Brozovic to sign a new deal by the end of the year. If he doesn’t then they will assume he will wait until the summer for an exit. However, the report finishes by stating that Inter are not interested in a bargain January sale.