The summer signing, United’s fourth most expensive player of all time, was not even included in the squad to face Arsenal on Wednesday
Jose Mourinho will not use summer signing Fred until Manchester United improve at the back.
The 25-year-old became the club’s fourth most expensive player of all time when he arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk in a £52million deal.
But Fred has struggled at Old Trafford to date and was not even included in Mourinho’s injury-hit squad for Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
“You know, step by step,” Mourinho said of Fred’s adaptation. “You have also other players in other clubs that needed their time and you have some of them that play even less than what Fred is playing.
“I think Fred when the team is defensively stronger and doesn’t need in midfield people that are more worried in giving some balance to the team than being involved in creation and attacking dynamic, the day we are stronger defensively I think the horizons for Fred change completely.”
United, who are without a win in four Premier League games, welcome Fulham to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Mourinho was quick to heap praise on new Cottagers boss Claudio Ranieri and warned that the fixture won’t be as easy as Fulham’s league position might suggest.
“I want to be positive and think we are going to win,” added Mourinho. “But if we don’t, give credit to the people that deserve credit. The game is not going to be 11 against zero, it’s going to be 11 against 11, good players in the other side.
“The position, the points sometimes don’t say much about the real potential of the team, of one of the two most important managers in the history of the Premier League, so they have the potential to come here tomorrow and to give us a very difficult match.”