Man Utd boss Ten Hag has his own Park ahead of Newcastle cup final

Erik ten Hag previews Carabao Cup final

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Manchester United star Fred hasn’t always hit the heights expected of him at Old Trafford but, ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final showdown with Newcastle, is a man very much in form. And, like Red Devils cult hero Ji-Sung Park, he’s proving to be a player for the big occasion. The Brazil international is expected to start at Wembley, alongside compatriot Casemiro as Erik ten Hag looks to win a trophy at the first time of asking.

When Manchester United saw Christian Eriksen sidelined until late April, that placed a great deal of pressure on the shoulders of Fred.

The Brazil international was previously struggling for regular starts at Old Trafford, with Ten Hag often using him off the bench instead.

Fred has long blown hot and cold for United, a problem he’s experienced ever since his arrival back in the summer transfer window of 2018.

Ahead of the cup final against Newcastle on Sunday, however, the Samba star is very much a man bouncing back.

Fred has started to shine for United in big matches, helping Ten Hag’s side keep their hopes of a historic quadruple alive.

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The 29-year-old was impressive in the recent double-header against Leeds, playing a key role as his team picked up four points from those two fixtures.

And Fred was immense in the two matches against Barcelona, too, netting the equaliser against the La Liga giants on Thursday night.

Regarding Park, the United legend was never considered world-class.

Instead, he was a steady Eddie who Sir Alex Ferguson could rely on – with the South Korea international always willing to put in a shift.

Park became so key during Ferguson’s latter years that he’d even start ahead of forwards such as Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov.

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And Fred, while a different player to the South Korean, has also shown he’s willing to give his all in recent times.

Like Park, he’s also shown an ability to be versatile and tactically compliant.

For the most part, United have used Fred as an anchorman since his arrival in 2018. Certainly, that was the case under bosses such as Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Under both Ten Hag and Ralf Rangnick over the past 12 months, however, he’s flourished playing as more of a box-to-box player.

Fred has benefited from that, too, producing some of his best football.

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He’s managed three goal involvements from as many matches, against both Barcelona (twice) and Leicester.

And as United go in search of a first trophy since 2017, many are expecting Fred to keep his place in the side for Sunday’s showdown with Newcastle.

Ferguson always loved a trier, a grafter, which is why he so admired Park.

And Ten Hag seems to be 100 per cent behind Fred, with United hoping to renew his contract to recognise him for his recent displays.

Speaking after United beat Barcelona on Thursday evening, meanwhile, Ten Hag hailed Fred and compared the midfielder to a mosquito.

“He had an important role already last week in Barcelona, this week the same,” said the Dutchman.

“He had first to stop Frenkie de Jong from playing, he had to play as a mosquito around him and go behind him and he did it magnificently.

“Last week, I think he gave a brilliant assist for Rashy [Marcus Rashford] in Barcelona, and today he scored the goal. A brilliant performance.”

And, in a separate interview with BT Sport, Ten Hag added: “I think so [he can play further forward].

“What he can do really well is make runs behind in the right moment, he has the timing, to get behind the midfielders of Barcelona was part of our game-plan in Barcelona and now again, it was really effective to make the runs.”

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