Football

Marouane Fellaini the perfect fit for United

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Marouane Fellaini was crucial in United's win against Bayer Leverkusen (©GettyImages)
Marouane Fellaini was crucial in United's win against Bayer Leverkusen (©GettyImages).

Following Manchester United's 4-2 victory at home to Bayer Leverkusen, the talk was - quite rightly - about Wayne Rooney. 

The Englishman was in fantastic form, bagging two goals and an assist as he dominated the final third. 

However, much of Rooney's great play was enabled by the performance of a much more understated presence - Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

Let's not take anything away from Rooney, he was phenomenal.  However, one of the reasons why Rooney was able to be so effective was that Fellaini was back in midfield doing the job that Rooney has so often had to by himself in the past.

With Fellaini in midfield alongside Michael Carrick, Rooney was no longer required to come deep to collect the ball, and consequently that meant that the 27-year old was able to operate in his favoured position - in the No.10 role just behind the striker. 

This ability to collect the ball from deep has been missing from the Manchester United midfield for a very long time: Michael Carrick is a very decent player, but he specialises in passing the ball, and consequently he doesn't provide that midfield thrust that is often required, whilst Tom Cleverley is a jack of all trades but a master of few. 

When Carrick and Cleverley are paired together in midfield, it is rare to see either of them progressing with the ball at their feet, with both preferring to ship the ball wide, backwards or play a longer pass to Robin van Persie that is often intercepted.

As a result of the Carrick and Cleverley partnership, Rooney has often been forced to come deep to pick up the ball himself in order to make something happen, and whilst that has borne fruit for Manchester United, it takes Rooney out of the zone in which he can be most effective. 

Now that Fellaini is a United player, Rooney can stay in the final third, safe in the knowledge that Fellaini has got the ability to run with the ball and create space.  As evidenced last night, when Wayne Rooney is able to concentrate on playing in the final third he is immensely dangerous, and David Moyes will have been delighted to see United play with much more freedom and expanse now that Fellaini is in the side.

With the purchase of Fellaini, United have made themselves a far more potent attacking threat, and if Rooney is able to continue playing as he played against Leverkusen, the Red Devils could well have a significantly better season than most are predicting.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini
Football
Tom Cleverley
Wayne Rooney
Michael Carrick
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