It's now three goals in Manchester United's past two games that ought to have been scored simply through one player's determination to win the ball.

So before the criticism rains down (as it usually has this season) on Fred and United's perceived inability to press as a team, fans and pundits might want to consider both strikes at Villarreal on Tuesday night and the late opportunity the Brazilian had to beat Chelsea.

Okay, Fred spurned that golden opportunity after intercepting an Edouard Mendy pass, chipping tamely back at the Chelsea goalkeeper, but his relentless energy and eagerness to press opponents are yielding results. He helped create both goals against Villarreal, earning plaudits for his ball-winning ability.

It's a trait many ignore when assessing the overall merits of Fred but it wasn't underestimated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, nor by Michael Carrick.

And one suspects it won't be undervalued by a certain Ralf Rangnick either. The 'godfather of gegenpressing' has a reputation so well renowned that it was mischievously suggested by Gary Neville that Rangnick had had a say on Carrick's tactics at Chelsea.

Such a suggestion was dead-batted away by Carrick with such composure that the erstwhile United caretaker boss might get considered for a spot in England's Ashes line-up this winter. But it was relevant to the situation and a compliment to United's defensive organisation at Stamford Bridge, although Rangnick will surely demand more of his squad from an attacking standpoint.

The United display at Chelsea had Fred written all over it. It was a major surprise that his usual midfield partner Scott McTominay was awarded Sky Sports' Man Of The Match by Jamie Carragher, because several United players (Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, David de Gea, Jadon Sancho and Fred) were more deserving.

The whole game was Fred in a nutshell, even down to that late miss that had United fans berating the Brazilian. Hard-working, committed, energetic, a thorn in the side of the opponents. Thomas Tuchel has a similar player to Fred in N'golo Kante, who wasn't fit enough to feature on Sunday afternoon, but he must have been cursing the presence of the United No.17.

And while Rangnick surely had no hand in the way Carrick set up United, and certainly passed no advice to Fred the way the caretaker did via a Donny van de Beek delivered note at Stamford Bridge, there is a sense that the German will make great use of the diminutive midfielder's skillset.

Sure, Rangnick's task at United is to get the most from an extraordinarily talented group of players — and Fred is by no means among the most talented in the Old Trafford squad.

But, as Rangnick admitted in his soundbite quote on the United website that confirmed his arrival as interim boss on Monday, he will prioritise the team ahead of the individual.

He said: “The squad is full of talent and has a great balance of youth and experience. All my efforts for the next six months will be on helping these players fulfil their potential, both individually and, most importantly, as a team."

That approach will ultimately mean that some very talented individuals will fall by the wayside at Old Trafford. Plenty of able footballers haven't made it at top clubs, and that should be no different if players aren't willing to work to Rangnick's battleplan. Just think about the heated debate between Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher about Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday and you can see how even the best players are questioned when it comes to work rate.

On that, Fred can never be doubted. After watching Sunday's display, Rangnick should be licking his lips at the prospect of working with the United workhorse.

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