Football

Five reasons why Fellaini is a terrible Man United signing

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Marouane Fellaini is not the signing most Manchester United fans had hoped for when the summer transfer window opened.

That's a fairly non-controversial statement. But once your club buys a player, it's natural to begin rationalising it. You want him to do well because you want your club to win.

But, your gut reaction was right. Fellaini is not the right signing for Manchester United. That doesn't mean he's a bad player. In fact, he's a good player - and very effective in the right system.

But spending £27.5m on a midfielder who will almost certainly change the club's style of play is a massive risk for David Moyes - even if he does know the player well.

And that's perhaps why he didn't sign him until deadline day - until all other options (Fabregas, Khedira, Thiago Alcantara, Ander Herrera) were exhausted. It's a risk, and we don't think it was one worth taking.

So here's five reasons - with some evidence thrown in - as to why Fellaini is not the right signing for United.

5. He'll change the club's style of play

According to whoscored.com, United played 59 long balls per game last season - 16th most in the Premier League. Everton played 64 - third most.

United under Moyes so far this campaign - 73-per-game. The former-Toffees manager has already shifted United's style and Fellaini works well within this framework.

But United have never played this style of football. Will the fans embrace it? And it may work in the Premier League, but it certainly won't in the Champions League.

Against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich - teams United want to compete with in the latter stages - it's just too primitive. Fair enough, play long as a last resort in the latter stages - i.e. Borussia Dortmund against Malaga - but it should never be the first option for a top tier European side.

4. He prevents the purchase of a genuine world-class midfielder

Having spent £27.5m on a new midfielder, it would be foolish to expect United to spend anywhere close to this figure on another in the next few windows. With Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, plus Tom Cleverley in reserve, to buy another £30m+ central midfielder would be an admission of error.

Fellaini is the player United have chosen - he may not have been first choice, or even second (which is worrying in itself) but he's the one they've gone with. And they're stuck with him.

3. He had the 156th best pass completion in the Premier League - 79.3 per cent

That puts him well behind Tom Cleverley (90.2 per cent), Shinji Kagawa (89.7 per cent), Michael Carrick (88.1 per cent), Danny Welbeck (86.8 per cent), Antonio Valencia (84.1 per cent) and Ryan Giggs (81.3 per cent).

Compared to United's current options, he's nowhere near as accomplished a passer. That chimes with the notion that United will change their style with him in the team. And that's OK if you're willing to change, and the change brings about similar results.

But such a large transfer fee for such a mediocre central midfield passer seems a little strange. It's just not good value for money.

Not to mention, United have been hugely successful playing a certain way. Bringing in Fellaini, who primarily scored most of his goals from behind the main striker, also jeopardises the position of Shinji Kagawa.

A starker contrast could not be made between the two players - one is the typical Ferguson playmaker, the other the typical Moyes.

2. But Manchester United will not play him in his best position

It's fair to assume Fellaini will probably play alongside Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield.

United tried to sign first Fabregas, then Herrera and then Khedira to play this position. Instead they signed Fellaini. And he'll fill that gap.

But that's not his best position. Fellaini scored 11 goals and provided five assists last season. And he did that in his role off the main striker - 28 of his 31 appearances came as either an attacking midfielder or second striker.

The closer the Belgian plays to the box, the more effective he is in terms of bringing others into play. Otherwise his knock-downs and flick-ons occur too far away from the goal.

But that's the realm of Wayne Rooney, and Manchester United fans hope, Shinji Kagawa. That's £27.5m on a midfielder playing somewhere other than his best position.

1. Statistics show he's not a £27.5m player

He'll bring a 'muscular presence' to the midfield apparently - what that actually means is he committed the most fouls most often when on the pitch - his 2.6-per-game was the highest in the Premier League last year.

And despite that, he's only the 14th best midfielder for tackles-per-game (2.6) behind Robert Snodgress and Mousa Dembele. So he's a slightly above-average tackler who also happens to give away the most free-kicks in the league.

His interceptions-per-game is even worse (1.2) - even Southampton's work shy South American playmaker Gaston Ramirez has more (1.6).

Remember, he'll be playing in centre midfield most likely - yet his key attributes for a player in this area - pass completion, interceptions and tackling - indicate that at best he's slightly above-average. You don't spend nearly £30m on an above-average player. Not when Arsenal spent £42m for a world-class one.

His key passes-per-game (1.3) is only good enough for 53rd best in the Premier League - behind Andy Carroll and Barry Bannan. Don't expect Rooney or Kagawa-like vision if he does play in his best position behind the striker.

And concerning midfielders with more than 25 Premier League appearances, only Everton teammate Steven Pienaar, West Brom's Youssuf Mulumbu and West Ham's Mohamed Dianme were dispossessed more often per game (2.4 times per match).

And to back this stat up - Fellaini led the league in turnovers-per-match (2.5 times per fixture). That's more than Adel Taarabt (2.2) and Arouna Kone.

In fairness, his one outstanding attribute is heading.

In this category he ranks in the top 5 aerial winners - 4.9-per-game. Only Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Christian Benteke and Steven Fletcher had more.

Of his 11 goals last term, five were with his head. But he won't be playing in a position that maximises this attribute. Manchester United play with the ball on the floor in the middle of the pitch, not in the air.

Marouane Fellaini's strengths are not Manchester United strengths.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini
Football
Premier League

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