Fred or foe? Comparing the Man Utd man with eight PL midfielders

Date published: Tuesday 23rd March 2021 8:27 - Will Ford

Rice battles Fred

Fred had a game to forget as Manchester United were dumped out of the FA Cup. His display was made to look all the more shoddy by Leicester’s Fred with frills, Wilfred Ndidi.

The Foxes’ midfield dynamo is one of five players United could spark bidding wars over this summer to improve an ailing midfield, but how does he – along with seven other selected Premier League midfielders – compare to the United incumbent?

Our thanks to FBref for the numbers, which are per 90 minutes unless otherwise stated. We’ve ranked the players in each category.

 

Goal contributions

Goals (total)
1=) Rodri – 1
1=) Wilfred Ndidi – 1
1=) Yves Bissouma – 1
1=) Sander Berge – 1
1=) Declan Rice – 1
2=) Thiago Alcantara – 0
2=) Kalvin Phillips – 0
2=) Fred – 0
2=) N’Golo Kante – 0

Assists (total)
1) Wilfred Ndidi – 3
2=) N’Golo Kante – 2
2=) Kalvin Phillips – 2
3=) Rodri – 1
3=) Declan Rice – 1
3=) Sander Berge – 1
4=) Thiago Alcantara – 0
4=) Fred – 0
4=) Yves Bissouma – 0

Fred joins Thiago Alcantara as the only two players to fail to register either a goal or an assist in the Premier League this season. Not really what they’re there for, but not a great start.

 

Passing

Pass completion percentage
1) Rodri – 91.0%
2) Kalvin Phillips – 90.8%
3) Thiago Alcantara – 90.2%
4) Declan Rice – 90.1%
5) N’Golo Kante – 89.4%
6) Wilfred Ndidi – 88.7%
7) Fred – 87.7%
8) Yves Bissouma – 87.4%
9) Sander Berge – 83.2%

Key passes
1) Thiago Alcantara – 1.36
2) Kalvin Phillips – 1.27
3) Sander Berge – 1.06
4) N’Golo Kante – 1.00
5) Fred – 0.88
6) Rodri – 0.83
7) Wilfred Ndidi – 0.71
8) Declan Rice – 0.59
9) Yves Bissouma – 0.31

Progressive passes
1) Thiago Alcantara – 8.56
2) Rodri – 5.52
3) Fred – 5.44
4) N’Golo Kante – 4.41
5) Kalvin Phillips – 4.27
6) Yves Bissouma – 3.48
7) Declan Rice – 3.07
8) Sander Berge – 2.57
9) Wilfred Ndidi – 2.12

Passes intercepted or blocked
1) Declan Rice – 1.35
2) Sander Berge – 1.50
3) Wilfred Ndidi – 1.54
4) Kalvin Phillips – 1.61
5) Yves Bissouma – 1.75
6) Rodri – 1.82
7) N’Golo Kante – 2.37
8) Thiago Alcantara – 2.96
9) Fred – 3.09

Fred looks forward perhaps more than he’s given credit for at Manchester United – below just Thiago and Rodri in progressive passes. But the number of passes intercepted or blocked will be a major concern. For a player who’s not particularly creative in his passing – as his place in the key passes middle ground suggests – he really shouldn’t be giving the ball away that much. Kelechi Iheanacho is the latest beneficiary of many.

 

Goal and shot creation

Shot-creating actions
1) Thiago Alcantara – 2.64
2) Fred – 2.50
3) Rodri – 2.44
4) Kalvin Phillips – 2.15
5) N’Golo Kante – 2.03
6) Sander Berge – 1.95
7) Declan Rice – 1.59
8) Yves Bissouma – 1.41
9) Wilfred Ndidi – 1.09

Goal-creating actions
1) Wilfred Ndidi – 0.26
2) Rodri – 0.21
3) Fred – 0.20
4) Declan Rice – 0.10
5) Sander Berge – 0.09
6) Yves Bissouma – 0.08
7=) N’Golo Kante – 0.05
7=) Kalvin Phillips – 0.05
8) Thiago Alcantara – 0

Although Fred has had no direct involvement in goals and has created few chances, he does rank high when it comes to the ‘two offensive actions’ leading to a goal or a shot. Nearly 90% of the Brazilian’s shot-creating actions have been passes, suggesting he picks out Bruno Fernandes in areas from which he can create chances.

Bruno Fernandes hugs Fred

 

Shooting

Shots
1) Rodri – 1.04
2) Fred – 1.03
3) Yves Bissouma – 1.02
4) Thiago Alcantara – 0.96
5) Sander Berge – 0.80
6) Declan Rice – 0.76
7) Wilfred Ndidi – 0.58
8) Kalvin Phillips – 0.54
9) N’Golo Kante – 0.43

Shots on target percentage
1=) Declan Rice – 27.3%
1=) Kalvin Phillips – 27.3%
2) Rodri – 24.0%
3) Fred – 23.0%
4) N’Golo Kante – 22.2%
5) Yves Bissouma – 11.5%
6=) Wilfred Ndidi – 11.1%
6=) Sander Berge – 11.1%
7) Thiago Alcantara – 8.3%

Rice and Phillips should be shooting far more than Fred, but the Brazilian is nowhere near as inaccurate as Thiago, who should pack it in altogether.

 

Defensive actions

Tackles and interceptions
1) Wilfred Ndidi – 6.41
2) N’Golo Kante – 6.40
3) Fred – 5.05
4) Declan Rice – 4.55
5) Yves Bissouma – 4.53
6) Kalvin Phillips – 4.49
7) Thiago Alcantara – 4.48
8) Rodri – 3.73
9) Sander Berge – 2.12

Pressures
1) Fred – 23.0
2) Kalvin Phillips – 20.8
3) Wilfred Ndidi – 19.5
4) N’Golo Kante – 19.2
5) Thiago Alcantara – 18.2
6) Sander Berge – 17.1
7) Rodri – 15.8
8) Yves Bissouma – 15.4
9) Declan Rice – 15.1

Successful pressure percentage
1) Wilfred Ndidi – 38.2%
2) Rodri – 37.9%
3) N’Golo Kante – 35.5%
4) Yves Bissouma – 35.3%
5) Kalvin Phillips – 32.4%
6) Thiago Alcantara – 32.0%
7) Declan Rice – 30.2%
8) Fred – 29.4%
9) Sander Berge – 29.0%

Successful dribbler tackle percentage
1) Declan Rice – 48.0%
2) Rodri – 46.9%
3) N’Golo Kante – 46.4%
4) Thiago Alcantara – 39.3%
5) Wilfred Ndidi – 38.8%
6) Yves Bissouma – 38.5%
7) Kalvin Phillips – 33.9%
8) Fred – 32.3%
9) Sander Berge – 29.4%

Fred gets in opponents faces more than anyone, but his low success rate means the number of times United regain possession as a result of his pressure is lower per 90 minutes (6.76) than both Chelsea (6.81) thanks to Kante and Leicester (7.5) thanks to Ndidi – the same duo that unsurprisingly better Fred’s combined interceptions and tackles, with the United man’s poor success rate when faced with a dribbler accounting for some of that difference.

 

Possession

Miscontrols
1) Rodri – 0.50
2) Wilfred Ndidi – 0.64
3) Kalvin Phillips – 0.73
4) Declan Rice – 0.76
5=) Fred – 0.88
5=) Thiago Alcantara – 0.88
6=) N’Golo Kante – 0.90
6=) Yves Bissouma – 0.90
7) Sander Berge – 2.04

Dispossessed
1) Thiago Alcantara – 0.48
2=) Rodri – 0.58
2=) Wilfred Ndidi – 0.58
3) Declan Rice – 0.77
4) Yves Bissouma – 0.82
5) Kalvin Phillips – 0.88
6) N’Golo Kante – 1.18
7) Fred – 1.23
8) Sander Berge – 1.33

Dribbles attempted
1) Sander Berge – 2.48
2) Thiago Alcantara – 2.32
3) Yves Bissouma – 1.91
4) N’Golo Kante – 1.66
5) Fred – 1.27
6) Declan Rice – 1.10
7) Rodri – 1.08
8) Wilfred Ndidi – 0.83
9) Kalvin Phillips – 0.78

Successful dribble percentage
1) Declan Rice – 87.5%
2) N’Golo Kante – 77.1%
3) Rodri – 76.9%
4) Fred – 69.2%
5) Yves Bissouma – 65.3%
6) Sander Berge – 64.3%
7) Kalvin Phillips – 62.5%
8) Thiago Alcantara – 62.1%
9) Wilfred Ndidi – 53.8%

Another concern for United and Fred is how often he’s dispossessed. Only Sander Berge loses the ball more frequently having controlled it, and the Norwegian’s propensity for a dribble goes a long way to explain his ability to spurn possession.

The problem with Fred – which you probably didn’t need these stats to illustrate – is that it’s not really clear what he is. He’s good but inefficient when pressing; he can tackle, but not when they’re dribbling; he’s progressive but sloppy; he can play a pre-key pass but not as frequently as a pass to an opponent; he can shoot but doesn’t score. He’s not terrible at much, but distinctly mediocre at most.

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