Man Utd: Solskjaer defends decision to bench Bruno
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Manchester United star Fred endured a miserable day at the office as Leicester won 3-1 in the FA Cup on Sunday. The Brazil international looked awful throughout the contest and was fortunate to stay on the pitch as his side hunted a way to turn the game around. And the defeat at the King Power Stadium shows exactly why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, John Murtough and Darren Fletcher are in agreement over Declan Rice.
This was a bad day for Manchester United.
Having gone into the match on a high after beating AC Milan in the Europa League in midweek, the Red Devils were expected to show up against Leicester.
Yet that didn’t happen, with Solskjaer’s side producing a flat display as they slumped to defeat.
Former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice for the Foxes, with Youri Tielemans also on target.
For United, there were many bad performers.
Harry Maguire was poor, with the England international producing a terrible performance on his return to the King Power Stadium.
Anthony Martial looked lacklustre again and, with the France international regressing, must surely be heading for the door.
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Donny van de Beek didn’t look sharp in midfield, while Alex Telles was poor after being given a rare start over Luke Shaw.
But Fred was arguably the worst of the lot.
The United midfielder was easily outran and outmuscled by Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi in the middle of the park and was at fault for Leicester’s opener, poorly giving the ball straight to Iheanacho who then rounded Dean Henderson.
There’s no denying the Brazil international has come on leaps and bounds ever since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho as manager in December 2018.
But this was basic stuff. Fred squandered possession frequently throughout the tie and was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch, with the likes of Van de Beek and Paul Pogba making way instead.
And his poor display shows exactly why United are eyeing Rice behind the scenes.
It was reported last week that the Red Devils were in agreement over the West Ham star, with Solskjaer, Fletcher and Murtough all sold on his signing.
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Rice would be an upgrade. He may still be relatively young at 22 but, with over 100 Premier League appearances already under his belt, is experienced.
United could certainly do with a world-class holding midfielder.
Fred doesn’t fall into that category and while Nemanja Matic once did, during his heyday at Chelsea, the Serbia international isn’t in the same bracket.
West Ham are enjoying a remarkable campaign under David Moyes, with the Hammers currently sitting fifth in the table.
And Rice has played a significant role in their charge towards the Champions League, impressing with his composed and disciplined performances in the middle of the park.
United could certainly do with Rice.
But, speaking recently, West Ham boss David Moyes sparked fears from potential suitors by claiming his side would only be tempted into selling should they receive an offer exceeding £100million.
“I don’t agree with the owners that Declan Rice is a £100m footballer. Far, far more than £100m. Far, far more,” said the Scot.
“I look at the players who have joined some clubs from overseas and come in and nowhere near had the impact Declan Rice would have.
“I certainly wouldn’t put a price on it. You can decide which figure you want to put on it but I wouldn’t be sanctioning anything like that, that’s for sure.”
Moyes also played down talk that West Ham would need Champions League football to keep Rice at the London Stadium.
He added: “Do we need the Champions League to keep Declan? No, because Declan is under contract first and foremost, so he can’t go anywhere no matter what, and I keep saying it and I hope people know that when I say something, I mean it.
“We’ve not had an offer for Declan Rice and I hope we don’t get one.
“And you’ve got an idea now of where we’d need to be if it was even going to be considered, certainly be me.
“If we could finish in Europe, in some sort of European position, I think it would be progress.
“And that would be progress for Declan Rice as well because he’s been at West Ham while they’ve been bobbing around the bottom, so this is new for Declan as well.
“Declan seems very settled and in fact he is captaining West Ham, he plays for England, and I want to keep Declan thinking that his ambitions can be achieved here at West Ham and I will have to keep pushing that and keep pushing that with the owners as well.
“For me, I have watched the prices of some players who have gone to clubs recently and they could not lace Declan Rice’s boots.”
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