On March 2, 2019, Andreas Pereira scored his first goal in a Manchester United shirt and (takes hands off the keyboard to imitate a chef’s kiss) it was a positively delicious strike. The quality can’t be understated; Pereira’s curler from outside the box was the kind of shot you dream about scoring. The Brazilian midfielder was rewarded for his efforts, two months later, when the Manchester United fans voted the goal as the best goal this season. Of course, the time between the goal and the award featured one of the worst spells of form ever for the Red Devils, causing the goal to be one last beacon of light to cut through the fog of doubt leftover from United’s collapse.
Pereira’s strike proved to be the exclamation point on an otherwise shoulder shrug of a season for the 23-year-old. The inverse of his goal was Pereira being on the end of one of the worst giveaways of the season that led to Burnley scoring and, ultimately, earning a draw against United at Old Trafford — let us not forget United were down 2-0 until scoring in the 87th and 92nd minutes.
The United Academy product went on to make 15 appearances including six starts this season while playing a utility role wherever he was needed in the midfield. However, it seemed more to Pereira’s detriment that he could be relied upon to play all over the pitch as he never found a rhythm. But, in a more advanced role, Pereira was capable of pushing play forward — he was credited with an assist and two big chances created according to the Premier League website. Furthermore, he averaged over 23 passes per game and played 12 accurate long balls.
Pereira, when asked to play more defensively, struggled and lost more than double the amount of one-on-one duels that he won, and, in the air, he only won a fourth of the aerial duels he competed for. The aforementioned error in the Burnley game was the culmination of his up and down play in a holding role — leaving many of us wanting for Nemanja Matić’s full-time replacement.
On March 2nd, I retweeted every video of that goal possible on Twitter, but, frankly, I didn’t spend much time thinking of Pereira other than that moment, this season, and that sums up his performance in 2018-19. Much of that indifference can be chalked up to circumstance, but, a quick YouTube search of Pereira yields some great highlight footage of the midfielder’s ability to create space and outmaneuver defenders. I hope to see Pereira flourish in a more attacking role next season as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer implements his full philosophy over the summer. Pereira has all the makings of being at least a solid depth player for United going forward.