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Fred insists he has settled in Manchester after rare United start - and is confident he will prove his worth

James Ducker
Fred has struggled to acclimatise to English football - Offside

Fred believes he is slowly overcoming his struggles to adapt to English football and will prove he belongs at Manchester United.

The Brazil midfielder made only his second Premier League start of the season in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool.

Fred’s troubles have invited comparisons with the problems his compatriot, Klebersen, had adapting to life at Old Trafford in 2003 before his departure after just two seasons.

But Fred – a £52 million recruit from Shakhtar Donetsk last year and the fifth most expensive footballer in United’s history – is determined not to end up the same way.

“My first season was difficult but that is normal when a footballer changes league,” he said. “The Ukrainian league isn’t as strong as the Premier League. It’s faster and more physical here.

“You need to start games strongly and finish them strongly. It’s the full force for 90 minutes, but it takes time to adapt to English football when you come from Ukraine, even though I was playing against some of the best teams in the Champions League, but I believe I am adapting.”

Fred challenges Sadio Mane during Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Liverpool Credit: Getty Images

Fred says he is taking English lessons and that his family have settled in Manchester.

“I’m learning day by day. I feel like I’m getting better. I have a big heart. I will play better,” he said. “I like Manchester. My family are here and they like it too. They are speaking English. I’m having English classes, too, but it’s not possible all the time because we travel a lot but we speak lots of languages here.

“I have a good relationship with the manager and the coaches. I speak to the coach [Mike Phelan] every day. And to Michael [Carrick] and Kieran [McKenna]. Michael played in my position – he knows what he is saying. They are always encouraging me and I feel the support of fans, too. And I thank them for that.”

Fred did not have the benefit of a full pre-season after being granted time to miss the first leg of United’s pre-season tour in order to get married on July 14.

Fred battles it out with Georginio Wijnaldum Credit: AFP

The Brazilian had thought his wedding would fall during his time off after the Copa America but, having failed to make his country’s squad for the tournament owing to his poor club form, he had to request additional time off from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It has contributed to a sluggish start to the season in which Fred has had to be patient and wait for an opportunity, but he believes his display against Liverpool offered some grounds for encouragement despite some struggles against Georginio Wijnaldum.

 “Personally, I’m happy how I played in my first 'clasico' against Liverpool,” he said. “We’re just all a little frustrated that we didn’t hold on to the lead, but we have to be encouraged.

“We played at a very good pace against Liverpool. We needed that, we haven’t started the league well, but we played with heart, we played with force, we attacked quickly, especially in the first half. The second half we continued well but it was more equal.”