Man United’s Fellaini Turned The Corner


I remember when Manchester United spent £27.5m on Marouane Fellaini, everyone could see it was a panic buy from then United boss David Moyes and Chief Executive Ed Woodward.

At the time I said that the big Belgian would actually become useful for United, if given time and used properly.

People were asking why he needed time to settle in at Old Trafford. He’d spent six seasons at Everton after all. No disrespect to the ‘Toffees’ but United is a big step up. Also lets no forget that he didn’t settle straight away at Goodison either.

At Man United expectations are greater, the fans are more demanding and every other team sees you as a big scalp.

The fact Fellaini came at a big fee, got injured and was a Moyes boy didn’t help him during his first season. He also looked overawed by the prospect of playing in a Man Utd shirt.

He couldn’t hide… He’s 6ft 4 and has a large afro!

One of his other problems was that he actually tried too hard to justify himself to the crowd. That would ultimately cause more mistakes like snatching at chances, playing the wrong pass or making a silly tackle.

No one wanted the season to end as much as the Man United squad last term and probably nobody in that squad wanted it more than Fellaini.

He didn’t have a break though, he travelled to Brazil with the Belgian national side. He started the opening game on the bench against Algeria but came on after sixty-five minutes and took just five minutes to get his side level. After that Fellaini started the rest of Belgium’s games in Brazil. He ended up having a fairly decent tournament.

But it seemed that his United career wasn’t going to last much longer, with many reports suggesting that new boss Louis van Gaal wasn’t a fan and would sell the midfielder. Injury would again rear its ugly head and he was sidelined for the opening month of the season.

Then he returned and turned into an important squad player for Manchester United this season.

Against West Brom back in October he got his first goal for the club. He controlled the ball superbly on his chest and then sent a powerful right footed shot into the roof of the net. He turned that game when United needed him to and that game seems to be a turning point in his ‘Red Devils’ career too.

He has since become Van Gaal’s ‘Plan B’ guy.

The Dutch coach will send Fellaini into the number ten role and get his players to aim high balls (usually diagonally) up at the big, strong afro-man. Defenders fear Marouane because of his height, strength and arial ability. No Man Utd player has won more arial battles than Fellaini this term and he’s equally valuable in his own box defending set-pieces as he in the opposing sides penalty area.

This term United’s number thirty-one has bagged another three league goals to the one he scores against WBA. All his other strikes came in Man Utd victories. His goal on Sunday against ‘Top Four’ rivals Tottenham Hotspur was a classy finish after he shrugged off his marker. He took it low and into the opposite side of the net.

After that Spurs match Van Gaal singled Fellaini praising the big-man’s season so far…

“He had already played a lot of games in which he had a big influence”,

I am not a huge fan of assist stats.

See the only ones credited are the players that supply the final pass. But what about those that win the ball in the first place? Or the ones who make the smart runs that give the scorers space? They never get the same credit. Fellaini may have no direct assists but his mere presence and flick-ons are enough to cause major problems that can eventually lead to goals. Those that watch and appreciate the game know these players can be just as influential when teams score as the person who makes the final touch or pass.

Now he’s still not the star player but he never will be the star player either. Fellaini is there to help the team out, usually out of trouble or when the team run out of ideas.

Marouane doesn’t have the skills to rival a George Best or Ryan Giggs, he isn’t a local hero like Paul Scholes or a homegrown superstar like David Beckham.

For those reasons United fans are still suspicious of Fellaini. Plus his role in the team usually means that wingers are sacrificed. So he can still be an easy target when things go wrong.

But in modern day football you need to have players that can offer you something different from the norm.

With Robin van Persie once again on the sidelines and Radamel Falcao struggling to score, Wayne Rooney has moved forward and leads the line well. Marouane could be his ideal foil, that could play in the hole just behind the main striker. Or just burst forward from the middle of the park, he has the engine to do that too.

I’m pleased that Marouane Fellaini seems to be turning the corner at Old Trafford. It’s not his fault that he’s not a tricky winger. It’s also not his fault that Manchester United chose to pay over the odds for his services.

The player has shown this season that he works hard and might prove to be a vital component if Man United succeed in their goal to finish in the ‘Top Four’ this season!

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