According to various reports, Manchester United have turned their attention to Everton’s Marouane Fellaini as their search for a central midfielder goes on.
After twice failing with bids for Cesc Fabregas and seemingly failing to identify any other big name targets, David Moyes looks set to raid his old club for the 25-year-old Belgian.
But I would ask that if Fellaini is the answer, what exactly is the question?
Manchester United are a side who throughout the Ferguson years have played positive, attractive, ball on the floor football. Often they have deployed skilful ball players and passers in their midfield, such as Scholes, Carrick and Cleverley.
Fellaini is a totally different proposition. The Belgian is far more of a threat when the ball is in the air than on the deck. He uses his formidable height and strength to dominate defenders, winning headers for assists and goals for himself.
That is fine as a tactic for a mid table club like Everton, but will not impress Manchester United supporters.
There is a huge amount of pressure on David Moyes. That was to be expected. He is following in the footsteps of arguably the greatest football manager who has ever lived, Sir Alex Ferguson. There is massive pressure on the new man to deliver results on the pitch. Similarly however, there is pressure to deliver significant signings off the pitch, which so far this summer have been notable by their absence.
Moyes is not aided by the departure of David Gill as chief executive. Gill had experience of dealing with big name transfers and was a well respected figure in European football. New man Ed Woodward is a novice at such transfers, something which must be hampering Moyes’ attempts to bring in reinforcements.
Having failed with Fabregas bids, failed to attract Thiago and let targets such as Kevin Strootman go elsewhere, Moyes has turned back to his old team for answers.
Fellaini has his merits as a player, but does not seem to fit Manchester United. Moyes bought Fellani for Everton as a defensive midfielder, but in the last couple of seasons has played him in the number ten role just off the main striker.
He could not play there for United.
If Rooney stays at the club he will take that position. Failing that the club have Shinji Kagawa, Robin van Persie and youngsters such as Adnan Januzaj who can fill that position. Fellaini would not be a viable option.
If he was to be played a little deeper, he would probably be charged with breaking up the play. Does Fellaini offer United anything significantly different to what they already have?
It is true that he makes more tackles than any of United's current midfield options. Last season he averaged 2.6 tackles per game.
Carrick averaged 2.4, Cleverley 1.7 and Ryan Giggs 2.0. There is maybe something to be offered there. However it is worth noting that Fellaini also committed 2.6 fouls per game, significantly more than any United midfielder.
There would also be a requirement for Fellaini to distribute the ball effectively from that deeper position. This is where the Belgian falls down. His pass success last season was 79.3%. Compared to Carrick 88.3%, Cleverley 90.2%, Anderson 86.4%, Giggs 82.5% and Kagawa 88.8%, the Belgian is clearly inferior on passing.
So does Fellaini really bring anything new to the table for Manchester United? I would suggest not.
What is clear is that Moyes has to make significant moves in what is left of the transfer window. Rivals Manchester City and Chelsea have done their business early and look significantly stronger than Manchester United.
Central midfield is the main weakness for the defending champions. It is not a new problem for them. For a number of years, fans have pushed for reinforcements in that area. 2007 was the last time United made a significant central midfield signing, adding Anderson and Owen Hargreaves. Look how well they turned out!
So while Moyes needs midfield captures, what he doesn’t need is Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian has his merits but does not suit the Manchester United way. Signings are needed soon and while the lack of transfer activity is frustrating for United supporters, no activity is better than signing Fellaini.
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