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United Benching Fellaini Was Foolish; They Need What He Can Offer

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United applauds the crowd after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on September 14, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterSeptember 14, 2013

Marouane Fellaini wants to play.

In a Friday press conference alongside Manchester United manager David Moyes, he revealed his fear that a “dream” move to Old Trafford would never transpire and that at one point, he thought there was “no chance” he would make a move from Everton to the Premier League champions, per the Daily Mail.

“...it was a big opportunity for me to join one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he told reporters the day before United’s match at home to Crystal Palace. “My objective is to win trophies. I play football for this. With Man United I have a big chance to win something.”

And he probably will.

That said, the club’s best chance to actually deliver on Fellaini’s ambition is to play him—something they didn’t do from the start on Saturday.

Instead, their £27.5 million signing sat on the bench until just after the hour-mark when he replaced Anderson, whose own performance left much to be desired against a 10-man opponent he laboured to break down.

It’s worth noting, in the 28 minutes Fellaini played against Palace, he touched the ball 49 times—more than what Anderson managed in over an hour on the pitch—and completed 89 percent of his passes compared with the Brazilian’s 82 percent, per WhoScored.com.

United, who were woeful on the day, looked slightly better with the Belgian in the team, and while no one had reason to be surprised by that, it was curious that he didn’t actually start the match.

If anything was learned on Saturday, it was that talented, high-priced players do not require a “bedding-in” process at the clubs they joined during the summer transfer period.

Mesut Ozil hit the ground running at Arsenal, and even Gareth Bale—yet to regain full fitness following a mostly inactive preseason—impressed in his debut for Real Madrid, scoring a goal late in the first half.

Both players could well start the next matches for their clubs as well.

And so should Fellaini. And he should have on Saturday.

Be it Anderson, Tom Cleverley or Ryan Giggs, United’s options alongside Michael Carrick in the centre of the park are hardly inspiring, and for Fellaini to take a backseat to one of them—even in his first match at the club—was completely unnecessary.

Especially as Moyes, who also managed the 25-year-old at Everton, had been raving about his new signing’s technical ability just a day earlier.

“Every time I see Belgium play, they talk about this great team—but I always come away thinking Fellaini is the best player,” he said, adding, “Fellaini’s presence is very noticeable for many reasons, including his size. But you can’t overlook his technical ability,” per Charles Perrin of the Express.

Ironically, that’s exactly what Moyes overlooked on Saturday. And while he got away with the three points, it was hardly a memorable display from his side—a side that could desperately use the playmaking elements Fellaini can provide.

He wants to provide them, and Moyes should invite him to do so. After all, not every opponent United will face this season will be an undermanned, promoted outfit.

Fellaini wants to be a big part of United’s campaign, and they should let him be exactly that. They need what he can offer.

 

 

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