Fellaini – Mourinho’s Unsung Hero?
Jose Mourinho this evening has confirmed Marouane Fellaini is staying at Old Trafford as he is “important” player for the him. In 2013, Fellaini was bought under the short managerial tender of David Moyes. After a summer of nearly, but not quite signing big players such as Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale, etc. United fans were left with the Belgian international. It was on the last day of the transfer window and I think at the time, I would have been happy to sign anyone. In this post, I will analyse the good, bad and ugly of Fellaini. I am one of those fans who was never his biggest fan as a United player. However, I appreciated he could do a job for any team in the world. Look at some of our major rivals like Arsenal and Liverpool; they are limited and don’t have a ‘plan b’ when things aren’t going well during a game, when you need to try a different style of play as the “tikka-takka” football is not working. In Fellaini’s defence, he can break up play and is great in the air to win headers. He is not the type of player who is going to glide across a football pitch, however with his height and long stride he can easily make up ground on his opponent. Take for example, United v Chelsea on the 16 th April 2017 - there was an excellent piece of play by Kante. He got the ball in his own half, skipped by Fellaini who proceeded to track him back. Kante then knocks the ball around the defender but Fellaini has stuck with him all the way and takes the ball back to setup a United attack. He has scored some important goals and provided assists too. We had the goal against Celta Vigo in the Europa league last season to give us a 2-0 lead on aggregate in the tie. Fellaini setup Pogba for the goal in Europa League final. The header versus Hull in the League Cup in the first leg at Old Trafford to virtually kill the game off. However, that game was preceded by Fellaini’s return to Goodison Park where he came on as a sub, and gave away a penalty in the dying minutes, which Leighton Baines stepped up and scored to give them a share of the points. After that match, United fans booed him! If I’m being honest, that was done in poor taste. Any club should never boo their own player. Yes, we’re annoyed that he gave away a penalty and we didn’t win the game, but the impact of your own fans booing you at your home ground is detrimental. To be fair, it was a section of supporters and not the full 75,000 fans. However, this doesn’t have an impact on the player, it impacts the team, the manager, the staff, other fans around the world who support their team! Not just one player. Fellaini is not a typical Man Utd player, he is not a Roy Keane, a full bloodied Irishman who was like a terrier on a football pitch, covering every blade of grass and raising standards of everyone to ensure United won. He’s not Paul Scholes, who was a ginger magician with a football. Nor is he a Carrick, Pogba or Herrera. He is deployed to break up play and be an outlet for the attack. I’ve never seen a player with such great chest control. If you’ve ever played football, no matter what level, when a football is getting fired your direction and you must try take the ball down with your chest, it is not easy!! If you look at some YouTube videos of his work on a pitch, it’s the stuff that doesn’t attract attention. The example I use here is Robin Van Persie, best known for his ability to score goals. No doubt, he won United their 20 th league title. He made countless defensive front post headers for his team mates. Nobody ever remembers that side of the game. Fellaini is not known for his subtleness, there has been many times where a left or right elbow has been swung towards an opponent and you just wonder why is he doing this! In the Premier League Fellaini has a total of 53 yellow cards and 3 red cards from 230 appearances. That works out as 1 in 4 games he is going to get a card on average. When I looked at this stat, I thought it would be higher!! For a man of his size, he lost out on 513 aerial battles. Which is a concern! ‘Big chances missed’ are
at 35. For example, during this summer’s game versus Real Madrid, he had a chance to score from 8 yards out, centre of the goal only the keeper to beat. A great cross from McTominay, sent into Fellaini who hit it high and wide. Its stuff like that, that really annoys United fans. Getting sent off versus Man City at the Etihad was silly. There was no need to get involved with Aguero, then he throws his head and United are hanging on at the Etihad. Silly things he needs to get out of his game. I think Fellaini is a typical Sunday league player. He is big, tall and has great qualities in terms of chest control, heading ability, putting his heart on the line. However, to be a Man Utd player you need to have a bit more finesse. Fellaini has done a great job so far under Mourinho, he understands his role in the team and excels at it. I’m glad he is not playing against us next season because he will cause teams trouble!