Whilst at Everton, Marouane Fellaini was a cult hero; his buccaneering style of play and combative displays in the opposition box led to many an afro wig being worn in the Goodison Park stands.
It was not surprising then when the towering Belgian followed his mentor David Moyes to Manchester United last summer. This however proved to be a poor decision on both parts and now Moyes and Fellaini are both attempting to repair their damaged reputations.
Fellaini is a good footballer, and people are quick to forget the fantastic performances he put in for Everton, but they played a very different style of football at Goodison under the guidance of Moyes. That style could not be transferred to Old Trafford and ultimately led to the demise of the Scotsman as the United supremo, but it has also left Fellaini as a small fish in a very big pond.
At the peak of his performances, he was utilised as an unconventional striker, being a target man who would cause a nightmare in the opposition box with his strength and aerial ability. A return of 12 goals in 36 matches was a great return for a midfielder playing up front, but it matched the style that Everton wanted and that Moyes wanted to implement. That style was to make his team very hard to beat, and direct when in attack. He liked steel in the final 3rd and used to employ Tim Cahill in a similar fashion. Fellaini gave Everton a productive outlet as his sheer size made him difficult to deal with and should they need to play the ball out over the top, he was going to win more headers than he lost.
This is not how United play, or ever will play football, so Fellaini and Moyes were always going to struggle in their own way. We all know what happened to Moyes but Fellaini is still at the club in the midst of transfer rumour. According to an ESPN UK report, United are will to take a substantial loss on the big Belgian and accept offers of around £15million for a player they invested £27.5million on less than 12 months ago.
Fellaini was never what United needed, a strong central midfielder who was confident on the ball and could break up the play as protection for the back four. Michael Carrick has too much responsibility in that area and needed a more combative partner to take some of that pressure off. The issue is that Fellaini never seemed confident on the ball, and he couldn't be deployed in the same way as he was at Everton because there is no room.
United traditionally play with quality strikers, fast wingers and creativity coming through their midfield, there was no place for Fellaini in that attacking area, so he then had to be put in the centre where he was actually left rather exposed. He committed too many fouls when trying to break up the play and his inability to drive out of a defensive situation will forever be remembered by his dramatic dribble our of play against Bayern Munich.
It is understandable that as a player, when offered the chance to play at a top club in the Champion's league, you take it without question. It was in fact Moyes and the United hierarchy who were at fault, as they should have done their homework more and realised that he would not be a right fit. A panic buy that has embarrassed the club and rather unfairly tarnished a decent footballer's reputation. I hope that United do sell Fellaini so he can go to a club in which he genuinely fits and can start to rebuild that reputation.
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