Gilberto Silva Guides Fred in Dealing With Grandeur at Manchester United

Gilberto Silva Guides Fred in Dealing With Grandeur at Manchester United

Sunday, 12 August, 2018 - 07:30
After five years in Ukraine, Fred has to adjust quickly to life at Old Trafford and in the Premier League helped by his mentor Gilberto Silva. Photograph: Carlos Osorio/AP
London- Caio Carrieri
Towards the beginning of his last season at Shakhtar Donetsk, Fred decided it was time for him to seek a new challenge after five years in Ukraine. He already had one dream: to play in the Premier League.

When he shared this goal with his entourage, someone recommended starting English classes immediately. The adviser? Gilberto Silva, Arsenal Invincible, World Cup winner and one of the most successful Brazilians in English football history.

Fast forward 12 months and the former Arsenal “piano carrier” was delighted to witness Fred being able to interact minimally with his Manchester United teammates when they first met in early June before he traveled with Brazil to the World Cup finals in Russia.

“Learning the language was key to make his life easier in his new home,” Gilberto says. “I can say he arrived in Manchester with much better English than me when I went to London. Now he should take advantage of what he already knows to seize the great opportunities the country has to offer, mainly related to cultural learning.”

He was introduced to Fred and his family last year through a mutual friend. A current participant in Uefa’s executive master for international players – a football administration and management course – and a businessman in Lagoa da Prata, his hometown in Minas Gerais, the state where Fred is from, the former Arsenal star does not call himself a football agent. He prefers the word “consultant”, which embraces roles as a Fifa ambassador, TV punditry and running a football consultancy alongside the former São Paulo player Fábio Mello.

Since Fred’s £52m deal was sealed with United two months ago, Gilberto has been acting as a counselor to the 25-year-old midfielder, explaining the Premier League’s remarkable growth over the past years, the changing fast‑paced style and, obviously, the fierce rivalries from United’s point of view.

“We mainly talk about the difference of grandeur he will experience. It is a radical change,” Gilberto says. “Even if he had already played European competitions with Shakhtar, now Fred is in the best league, representing one of the biggest clubs in the world. Everything he does from now on will have a substantial impact. The same considerable growth applies to manager demands and fans’ expectations.

“I also described how the league has changed since my days. When I arrived the game was much more direct. Now there are more passes, probably thanks to Pep Guardiola’s influence. Speaking about City, Fred is already aware of the rivalries context, including the neighbors from Manchester and the classic clashes with London clubs.”

Fred did not end up at the Etihad Stadium last January because Shakhtar did not want to release him from Champions League duties. He was Paulinho’s back-up in Russia but did not make an appearance at the World Cup owing to an ankle injury he picked up during preparations at Tottenham’s training ground.

With Paul Pogba’s extended break following his World Cup coronation and with Nemanja Matic sidelined after having abdominal surgery, the £52m signing will probably be a starter for José Mourinho against Leicester at Old Trafford on Friday – as he was in the defeat by Bayern Munich in United’s final pre-season friendly last Sunday and in the previous win against Real Madrid.

With Fred’s debut in mind, Gilberto is planning to call to make sure the player is fully prepared. “Sometimes I have to play the rigorous role and explain to him how things work in England, trying to show how my experience was. My objective is helping him become not only a successful player but also a respected man,” he says. “I insist he must have a target. We usually analyze the progress we have made together and the objectives he has already achieved. But after that, I expect him to have new challenges and we will discuss the best way to reach this goal.

“If you do not keep working hard after succeeding in something you planned before, you tend to stagnate, and this is exactly what we do not want now. Fred has big goals – to write his name in Manchester United history and, as consequence of that, to keep his place in Brazil’s national team.”

After finishing 19 points behind Guardiola’s City last season, United may have been expected to be more active in the transfer market this summer. Fred is still the major reinforcement at Old Trafford.

He is one of up to 20 Brazilians who may play in the Premier League this season – the highest number in the competition’s history (not including both Brazilian-born Italians, Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri, from Chelsea). None of the others, however, have a tailor-made mentor such as Gilberto, who knows a thing or two about finding the best path to Premier League glory.


(The Guardian)

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