When Fred starts for United they tend to win
The nature of Manchester United's mixed start to the season has pretty much summed up the continued divide since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge almost two years ago.
There have been club-record highs, club-record lows, incredible wins and unacceptable defeats. It makes analysing the work of the Norwegian coach pretty difficult considering there are such clear arguments both in favour and against his management of the Old Trafford team.
Just as there have been incredible wins over Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, as well as United's best away form since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge, this season there have also been damaging defeats against Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur and Istanbul Basaksehir.
With such erratic form, it is quite clear why 'consistency' has become the buzzword at United, a phrase regularly recited by Solskjaer and his players in their media duties. It might be a cliché but it is accurate.
United have another packed fixture schedule when they return from the international break next week and the manager will be desperate to establish the consistency, not only with results but with his team selection.
It is that desire for stability that could see Fred solidify his new role as one of the most important players at the club.
One advantage the 27-year-old has is that he should be fresh and raring to go after another odd snub from the Brazilian national side. Despite his impressive club form, the samba star continues to be overlooked by Tite at international level, a harsh blow for him but a boost to United's own selfish needs.
The most obvious argument in favour of Fred is that when he starts United tend to win. Of the eight matches he has been named in the starting XI this season there have been six wins, one draw and one defeat.
There is even more mitigation in regards to that form with his single starting loss this season coming against Arsenal when he was asked to play out of position at the base of a midfield diamond.
In recent weeks Fred has proven himself to be the perfect equilibrium in the United midfield, offering the ideal balance to cater for the attacking flair of Bruno Fernandes and the raw tenacity of Scott McTominay.
Solskjaer deserves credit for the manner in which he has persevered with Fred through thick and thin, but the player also deserves serious recognition for adding so much more to his game. While his running stats have always been impressive since he arrived from Shaktar Donetsk the Brazilian has recently showcased a diverse passing range to his game and significantly improved his first-touch.
There appear to be two overriding reasons for this significant improvement. Firstly is his positional change which has seen him playing on the left rather than on the right, something which makes him feel more comfortable in possession as a left-footed player and secondly his blossoming partnership with McTominay.
Finding stability over the next month could determine the entire success of United's campaign, and in turn cement Fred's status as perhaps the most important player in the whole squad.