He has been hailed as the next Eric Cantona by former Man United defender Henning Berg, but Marouane Fellaini faces a hugely difficult task to make any such impact at Old Trafford after his last minute move from Everton on deadline day.
Without any disrespect to the Belgian, United won the league last season. There were very few areas that needed a mass of improvement, and perhaps even more crucially: it’s Manchester United.
The Red Devils are supposed to sign world class players, and whilst Fellaini is undoubtedly an influential addition, whether he would get in the sides of the Barcelona's and Real Madrid's of the world is debatable.
What Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to address over the last five years was the gap between United and the elite of La Liga, having missed out twice to Barca in the Champions League final.
“Your job now is to support your new manager”. These were Ferguson’s departing words.
Unfortunately, they were addressed to the fans and not the board, and the Fellaini signing has all the hallmarks of a panic buy. Yes, there were moves for the midfielder earlier in the transfer window – most notably a joint bid involving Leighton Baines – but the signing looked dead in the water until United still hadn’t signed anyone with half an hour of the transfer window left to go.
David Moyes’ anticipated raid of Goodison Park did not quite materialise, and fortunately for the Toffees’, they managed to keep hold of Baines. Everton will certainly miss Fellaini, but whether he can become a player of such importance at Old Trafford remains to be seen. He is superbly versatile, can score fantastic goals and has been told he will be an instrument to set up goals for Robin Van Persie, although that was certainly not an issue last season.
Fellaini’s role is not one that United have lacked, even with Paul Scholes’ retirement, as the ancient midfielder couldn’t play in every game and was confined to a bit-part role in his last playing years.
To be fair to Fellaini, this may all be proved wrong as he is yet to actually play for United due to the interruption of the international break, but is expected to feature at the weekend against Crystal Palace.
As United’s only significant signing of the season, a phenomenal amount of pressure is on Fellaini to make his mark after moves for Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera fell through.
Moyes is reportedly looking to change United’s scouting system after what can only be described as a farcical transfer window that culminated in a cartoon-worthy scene in Spain with three imposters looking to muscle in on the Herrera deal.
£27.5million is a lot of money even in today’s market, for a player who shone at Everton, but Fellaini nevertheless dives in at the deep end in a team that frankly, he will struggle to improve.
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