There is a brilliant moment in the 2009 film Looking for Eric in which the main character played by Steve Evets has visions of his Manchester United idol Eric Cantona.
Evets, who plays United fan and postman Eric Bishop, has regular dialogues with Cantona throughout the film and at one stage asked the Frenchman for his favourite Old Trafford goal.
“It was not a goal,” replies Cantona. “It was a pass.”
The United legend then details his beautifully weighted ball to Denis Irwin against Tottenham that set the full-back up to score. “You have to trust your teammates, always, if not we are lost,” he says.
It is unlikely that current United midfielder Fred will ever reach the stage where he stars in a seminal United movie after he retires, but you wonder whether the Brazilian may have had his “it was a pass” moment against Real Soceidad.
Fred is routinely written off by a section of United fans. His occasionally erratic passing and often appalling shooting — resulting in a goal record that should be better for a midfielder — means he’s never going to be a Hollywood player.
Fred does the dirty work in front of United’s defence and provides a platform on which others can shine. He is very close with Bruno Fernandes off the pitch, as the Portuguese appreciates what Fred brings and how much he sets him up.
But maybe with one superb pass to set up Marcus Rashford against Real Sociedad, Fred proved to a wider audience that he is an all-round midfield player after all.
The BT Sport commentators did not go wild for the pass, despite the fact it cut through an entire team and sent Rashford clean through. After missing two earlier chances, the United forward didn’t miss this time. He couldn’t. It had been served up on a plate for him. Had Fernandes played the pass, mass hysteria may have been reached.
The United coaches can regularly be heard cajoling Fred from the sidelines during games; a benefit of the behind-closed-doors era. And it’s always Michael Carrick that is moving the Brazilian around like a chess piece.
Fred is a different type of player to Carrick, though he is doing a similar job and admits to taking tips from the former Sir Alex Ferguson favourite.
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Manchester United’s European campaign got back under way with a bang, as they thrashed Real Sociedad 4-0 in the first leg of the Europa League last 32.
United have one foot in the last 16 of the competition ahead of the second leg, while they now switch their focus to Newcastle at home in the Premier League on Sunday.
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“Carrick is a guy that always helps me,” Fred said last year. “He is someone that always talks to me, which is important for adapting my football for the Premier League.
“Because when I arrived I would control the ball in midfield and, well, one or two opposition players would come along and I’d be knocked off the ball. So now I can understand the game better and that I have to be quicker and stronger.
“Carrick helps me to calm down. We do some one-on-one training, so he’s someone who influences me a lot at the club.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is also very encouraging of Fred, and the signs are still that the 27-year-old can keep developing, after a drastic improvement from his debut campaign to now.
Carrick’s message has been to get Fred to control games, disrupt play and play the key passes, which he now does.
The next step is to make that passing more consistent and get Fred to unlock defences, in the manner of someone like Paul Pogba.
There will be some who always doubt Fred’s abilities, but as Cantona knows, sometimes one pass is all that it takes.
It’s only right that a pass sums up the diminutive United No.17, who is always smiling, very popular in the dressing room — and who is the ultimate team player.