Roy Keane has never been once to mince his words.
And during the half-time break of Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Southampton on the weekend, the Irishman let fly at Fred.
United were 2-0 down at the time, and although Fred hadn’t been playing too baldy – no more than any other Red Devils star – he had given away a free-kick in a dangerous position, which lead to a goal for the Saints.
Keane, lamenting the Brazilian for his ‘sloppy’ play, said on Sky Sports: “I’d be more critical of Fred. Fred giving away the free-kick.
“I’d be disappointed with my goalkeeper, but I’d be more disappointed with Fred for being really lazy and really sloppy. Giving away free-kicks in that area is like giving away a penalty.
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“Corners can happen, obviously, you’ll take that, but the free-kick, if you look at Fred closely, I’ve been criticising him for years.
“My eyes don’t lie to me. Really poor decision, really lazy.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer never responded directly to Keane’s comments, but he is well aware that the Irishman likes to provide a scathing review of his team from time to time.
It’s not doubt because Keane cares and wants United to do well.
And, Solskjaer probably agrees with some of what the the former Red Devils captain has to say about United.
But, of course, it is Solskjaer’s job to stick up for his squad; support them and ensure that even during the bad times they are playing with confidence.
Solskjaer has proven himself to be a good man-manager since taking the reins from Jose Mourinho, and so amid the criticism the Norwegian has defended Fred.
Following United’s win over Everton, Solskjaer said of him: “You see all the tackles that Scott and Fred were winning in the middle there.
“We’re tight, we’re compact, we win the ball, we play, we’ve got spaces, that’s how we want to see these boys. So we’re very pleased with that.
“Scott and Fred have done brilliantly together. They’re a great partnership. They had that energy in the engine room.
“They’re always key for us, so our creative players can go on and create chances, show their magic. They’re so disciplined and we’re very pleased with the two of them.”
And then after United’s Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, Solskjaer added: “I’m sure Fred covered every little single blade of grass on that pitch.”
Fred actually responded to this comment from his boss, telling Esporte Interativo: “I’m very happy about that and happy that I’m important to the team.
“It’s very important that the coach is praising me.”
But in all the praise it seems Solskjaer failed to address the ‘sloppy’ side to Fred’s game that Keane was referring to on the weekend.
And the Norwegian was left with egg on his face by overlooking this and backing Fred against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night.
Fred picked up a booking in the first half for pushing his head towards Leandro Paredes.
There wasn’t much in it, and the Paris Saint-Germain star did go down very theatrically, but that said, the United midfielder was extremely lucky to not receive a red card.
Solskjaer had the chance to remove Fred at the break but opted against doing so.
He even had the opportunity to do so midway through the second half when the match was finely poised at 1-1, but again decided not to.
On the 69th minute Marquinhos made it 2-1 to PSG and as United prepared to rally Fred was given his marching orders just 60 seconds later for a foul on Ander Herrera.
The second booking was a harsh one, given the Brazilian got the ball.
But it was another reckless and ‘sloppy’ challenge the midfielder simply didn’t need to make at a crucial time for United. And it proved to be the Red Devils’ undoing.
PSG went on to net again in stoppage time, running out 3-1 winners over United, who are still yet to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.
Solskjaer did his best to back Fred following the fixture, but in the end admitted his decision to keep the Brazilian on the pitch while on a yellow was a big mistake on his part.
Solskjaer said: “He’s been playing really well and he knew to stay on his feet. It wasn’t a foul and Ander knows that. He knows that.”
He added: “He was lucky to stay on,” said Solskjaer of the first incident. “The referee made a mistake there but that’s allowed.”
“He played well but with the decision the referee made you maybe look back and say you should have [taken him off].
“But there was no reason from his performance to take him off.”
Solskjaer wasn’t alone in pointing out the decision to leave Fred on the pitch was a costly mistake, with Michael Owen laying into the Brazilian on BT Sport.
“Mistakes all round really,” said Owen. “It was a red card. There wasn’t much [in the headbutt] but come on, you’re a grown man. You don’t have to do these petulant little things to put your team at risk.
“If I was a manager and one of my players did this, just pure petulance, then he wouldn’t play for me again. It’s pathetic really.”
Former Celtic forward Chris Sutton also made his feelings known, telling the BBC: “I think Solskjaer made a massive error. Anything Fred did in the second half they [PSG’s players] were going to be all over the referee.
“It was really poor decision from Fred but an even worse decision from Solskjaer because that ultimately cost them the game.”
Clinton Morrison agreed, adding: “You’ve got Neymar in [the referee’s] ear at half-time and Fred makes it easy for the referee. Solskjaer could’ve made changes.”
The defeat leaves United still needing a point to qualify for the knockout stages, but Solskjaer is remaining defiant that the Red Devils will progress.
Solskjaer said: “We know the destiny is in our own hands.
“We know that we play against a good team in Leipzig, who were in the semi-final last year, but we are developing into a better team as well.
“I was very pleased with the performance apart from of course they were more clinical. Big games most of the time are decided by fine margins and this time they were against us.”
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