Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has insisted that he'll keep playing Marouane Fellaini in advanced attacking positions, because the big Belgian brings unique qualities to the table that opponents find very difficult to stop.
Fellaini is a player that divides opinion among Red Devils fans, but under Van Gaal's leadership there's definitely been a marked improvement in the midfielder's performances over the last few weeks in particular.
The 27-year-old has started United's last three Premier League games and helped Van Gaal's side win on each occasion, which is exactly Van Gaal wants to keep playing him and Michael Carrick in the same midfield in search of the perfect balance centrally.
Van Gaal finds a place for Fellaini
In an interview with The Mirror following last weekend's vital 2-1 win over Liverpool the Red Devils boss lavished praise on the polarising Fellaini, declaring: “Fellaini has qualities that now in this moment he can contribute a lot, and that's why he is playing.
“He also allows me to give balance to the team and that’s important. That’s important for a manager who is looking for the balance of the team.
"He's also a player who can give a solution for beating the opponents when they're pressing, and that's also a contribution, but he has more contributions.
"I think he has to play more and more higher [up the pitch] and Michael Carrick has to play more deeper.”
First-season woes forgotten
Fellaini has been forced to battle for his United future this season, after injury and poor form made a £27 million move to Old Trafford in 2013 look like a dreadful piece of business for both parties.
United's one-time £100,000-a-week misfit has proved he can be effective in a United shirt this season though, even if at times its not particularly pretty on the eye.
The 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month was a perfect case in-point. Fellaini took up dangerous attacking positions that Spurs were ill-equipped to stop.
His reward was a fine opening goal and man-of-the-match performance, which showed that he's far more effective driving forward than being left stranded in a withdrawn central position.
Van Gaal recognises that Fellaini gives United the option to go direct on occasion and adds variety to a strikeforce that lacks the raw pace to stretch teams in-behind.
For exactly that reason United fans should get used to Fellaini and Van Gaal for that matter, because substance over style is here to stay at the Theatre of Dreams.
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