Marouane Fellaini has been left in a precarious position at Manchester United following David Moyes’ departure from the club. Moyes’ first big name signing can no longer rely on a management team who trusted his ability enough to try and force him into a United set-up which never suited his style of play. It appears that this attempt to force an Evertonian culture on United was one of the main reasons behind David Moyes’ departure. The prize jewel in this uneasy marriage was Fellaini and, just like Moyes, he has failed to fit into the Manchester United regime.
In the summer of 2013, the pressure was on United to show that they remained a force following the exit of Sir Alex Ferguson. To this end, it is widely known that they pursued a marquee signing to signal that their intent and ability as a top European side remained. Ronaldo, Bale and Fabregas were some of the illustrious names mentioned in the press. Despite these mouth-watering signings being mooted throughout the entire summer, United failed to land a star name. Instead, Fellaini was purchased on transfer deadline day, for 27.5 million pound. Fellaini was immediately dubbed a ‘panic buy’ and he has yet to prove otherwise.
At Everton, Fellaini was known for his combative edge, aerially ability and goal-scoring. In a Manchester United shirt, he has yet to show any of these qualities. Players often do take time to settle, though, and Fellaini has had his struggles with injuries this season. Fellaini has also been played much deeper at United when compared to his role at Everton and this has hindered his ability to create opportunities and score goals.
Perhaps then it would be unfair to right off a player with a Premier League capability who has only made 20 first team appearances for the team this season. However, even a champion of Fellaini’s playing qualities would admit that his ability to fit into a team which played free-flowing attacking football is questionable. Indeed, Roberto Martinez, before United played Everton, questioned where Fellaini could fit into his as it now plays expansive passing football. Traditionally, Manchester United have played with attacking wide men who create excitement, midfielders who can dominate both the ball and the opposition, and have goal-scoring genius’ up top. Where can a player like Fellaini fit into this type of team?
The simple answer is that he will not fit into a Manchester United team. If this is accepted, then the new Manchester United manager, regardless of who it is, will face a conundrum. Fellaini could be used as an extortionately priced squad player who makes cameo appearances as the club try to justify his hefty price tag. Or, the new manager could try to somehow fit Fellaini into a team with which his abilities as a player do not match. If these options are taken, Fellaini will either be largely left in the United shadows or hinder Manchester United’s ability to progress as a footballing team.
Instead of reluctantly keeping the player as a living remnant of the old Moyes regime, almost shackled to the squad by an extortionate price tag, the Manchester United board should sell Fellaini and finally admit their mistake in agreeing to purchase the player. A clean break from Moyes and his mistakes are necessary for the club to overcome the crisis it now faces. United will undoubtedly lose out financially as they would be extremely lucky to recoup even half of what they paid for Fellaini. However, the price of a new dawn, free from a player who may prove to be a costly reminder of past mistakes whilst hindering the team’s performance on the pitch, may prove to be priceless.
By Alex Porter
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