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Getting the best from Marouane Fellaini…

Marouane Fellaini has recently just signed a new deal at Manchester United which will leave him at the club until 2020 and possibly a further year should the club activate an extension clause. Fellaini’s contract was set to expire and it looked like he was going to leave Old Trafford as he entered negotiations with both AC Milan and Arsenal. However, it appears as if Fellaini was not happy with what Milan and Arsenal had offered him and would rather play with United as Jose Mourinho has shown such faith in him. Fellaini himself is very vocal about the support he has received from Mourinho and even took to Twitter to announce he was staying in Manchester.

The big issue regarding the Belgian midfielder is that he is a controversial character amongst United fans and pundits alike. Many feel he does not have the qualities to play for Manchester United. However, this is not to say the qualities he can bring to the table are not effective. One thing that cannot be questioned about Fellaini is his effort, which can be questioned about more talented players in the squad. Although he is not graced with technical ability, Fellaini gives it his all for United and when he is used correctly he is effective.

For example, just this season when United were level with Arsenal and it looked like the game may finish in a draw, Fellaini was brought on and played in an advanced role to cause problems for the Arsenal defence. Eventually, Fellaini scored from a cross by Ashley Young and his passion was shown as he was slapping the United crest on his shirt and running over to the United fans near the tunnel.

Minutes previously in this game, Fellaini also found himself in the box whilst Anthony Martial crossed in the ball, Fellaini got his head to it and hit the post but Marcus Rashford netted the rebound. Unfortunately, the goal was given as offside but this just shows how effective Fellaini can be when used correctly. Two-goal opportunities were created from his aerial dominance in a matter of seconds. The Belgian is simply a handful for any defender given his physicality and aggressive style of play.

Although Fellaini is a clear goal threat, he has not always been used further up the pitch. Under both Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal, Fellaini has featured in more of a holding role at times and it has not consistently worked. A player with an aggressive nature and perhaps somewhat ill-disciplined will cause problems for a team defensively if put in a holding role. Everton away in the 2016/2017 season is a prime example of the problems that are led into when Fellaini is played deeper.

United were 1-0 up against Everton and Fellaini was brought on to add a bit of height in United’s defence to try and stop long balls coming in for Everton. However, this idea did not go to plan as Fellaini gave away a penalty in the dying minutes which lead the game finishing 1-1.

This was not the only time Fellaini has been criticised by United fans and pundits but also the Arsenal goal is not the only example where he came to United’s rescue. Clearly, when used correctly, Fellaini has a lot to give Manchester United. He was brought to United for the performances he put in against the club whilst he was at Everton. It is not the player’s fault he gets told to play in a role which he simply does not have the capabilities of playing.

When he plays in an advanced role, if he does not score a goal he will definitely cause problems for the opposition and that is why United have renewed his contract.

Written by Shane Purcell

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