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Both Fred and United teammate Scott McTominay have come under scathing criticism this season over their hit-and-miss midfield partnership at Old Trafford.
Ex-United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often deployed Fred and McTominay together, with Ralf Rangnick rotating both players with Paul Pogba in recent weeks.
Fred came off the bench in the second half, replacing Pogba, against Leeds last Sunday and made an immediate impact in United’s 4-2 victory at Elland Road.
Following Leeds’ quick-fire double, the 28-year-old midfielder restored United’s advantage with a powerful strike before Anthony Elanga scored his side’s fourth.
Barnes believes that Fred has been treated “harshly” over his role in midfield, with the Liverpool hero claiming United’s front four “don’t work as hard off the ball.”
Speaking to BonusCodeBets, he said: “Fred deserves more respect for the job he’s doing on the pitch for Manchester United.
“Fred and Scott McTominay in the midfield have unfortunately been playing in games with a front four who don’t work as hard off the ball, which means the two of them are overrun [by opposing players].
“As much as teams may get at Manchester United’s back four easily, it’s not because of those two. Fred’s been treated very unfairly and judged rather harshly.
“You cannot just have two midfielders doing all of the off-the-ball work when you have a front four who really haven’t also worked tirelessly when out of possession to help supplement them.
“Fred is a good player who every time he’s played has done okay. Ralf Rangnick is correct that he deserves more respect.”
Rangnick’s men secured an important 1-1 draw on Wednesday in their first-leg round-of-16 Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.
Joao Felix fired Atletico into the lead in the opening 10 minutes at the Wanda Metropolitano, but Elanga came off the bench and scored a crucial equaliser.
United will return to Premier League action on Saturday against Watford at Old Trafford, with kick-off slated for 3pm UK time.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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