Manchester United’s A-list stars might have stolen the headlines following last night’s win over Atalanta, but Arsene Wenger was keen to praise one of their most criticised players of recent times for his role in an epic comeback victory.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were booed off at half-time with his team trailing 2-0 and their Champions League fate hanging in the balance.
A rousing second-half performance, however, capped by Cristiano Ronaldo’s late header secured a vital three points which propelled the Red Devils to the top of Group F after three matches.
And while Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, along with eventual matchwinner Ronaldo, made eye-catching contributions, Wenger was impressed with the display of the much-maligned Fred at the base of United’s midfield.
The Brazil international has been criticised by a host of the club’s former players recently, with Roy Keane suggesting his continued presence would prevent United from launching a credible title challenge.
More recently, Owen Hargreaves claimed Sir Alex Ferguson would have banned the 28-year-old for a month for failing to stop Andros Townsend scoring Everton’s equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, but Wenger insists the the former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder played a key role in a victory which eased
‘I would personally highlight the second half of Fred,’ the former Arsenal manager told beIN sports.
‘Fred saved a few crosses in the box. Defensively he was outstanding and he worked unbelievably hard in the second half.’
Solskjaer had controversially, meanwhile, left Paul Pogba out of his starting line-up, but threw on the France international midway through the second period when his side were still trailing and Wenger also thought his compatriot had a decisive influence on the result.
He added: ‘The changes made a difference, Pogba I thought did well. Pogba gave them more power out from deep in midfield by creating more dangerous balls.
‘And when Pogba came on Fernandes became better. Fernandes had a poor first half but in the second half he came alive as well.’