At various moments during their club’s disastrous season, Manchester United fans will have undoubtedly looked back at last summer’s transfer window with feelings of anguish and heartache.
Back then, brand-new United manager David Moyes had all eyes fixed upon him as he attempted to make his first moves on the transfer market. Surely, people thought, Moyes would make a move or two. Surely, the squad needed refreshing. As a new manager, Moyes would attempt to make his mark on the team.
Initially, things looked good. There was reported interest in Cesc Fabregas, and Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera’s move to the club seemed like a matter of time. Back then, both Fabregas and Herrera seemed like sensible additions to the squad. Here were two forward-thinking midfielders to partner the more defensive-minded Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield.
Eventually, though, United got neither Fabregas nor Herrera. The midfielder who moved to Old Trafford was Everton’s tall and stocky Marouane Fellaini. While Fellaini seemed like a good squad player for United, it was clear to everyone that the Belgian would never bring the midfield creativity a player such as Fabregas would have brought.
But even considering the fact fans weren’t expecting the world of him, Fellaini still disappointed. In many matches, the midfielder failed to show up, and in no way did he live up to his £27.5 million price tag.
The lowest point of the season for Fellaini was possibly his performance against Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the Champions League. In this match, the Belgian appeared sluggish and slow. He didn’t make any successful tackles and lost too many aerial duels—exactly the aspects of the game Fellaini was expected to be good at.
Now, David Moyes is sacked, and along with his team mates, Marouane Fellaini must look forward to a new manager. As of now, it is unknown who this new manager will be, but seeing as Fellaini is generally regarded to be Moyes’ player, there is a chance Fellaini will have to fear for his position.
Luckily for the Belgian, though, it will be a while before this summer becomes a summer of transfers and squad tinkering. First and foremost, the summer of 2014 will belong to the World Cup. In Brazil, Fellaini will get the chance to prove to his new manager—whoever that may be—that he deserves a second chance at Manchester United.
In many ways, the conditions are all there. As part of the Belgian squad, Fellaini will be surrounded by players in much better moods than himself. Together with his team-mates, Fellaini will get the chance to spend some much-needed time away from all the media scrutiny and negativity surrounding his club side at the moment.
At Manchester United, Fellaini was not the only player to underperform this year. Robin van Persie, who was the Premier League’s top scorer last year, only managed to score 11 goals this season—in all competitions. On the wings, players such as Nani and Ashley Young failed to make an impression, while defenders like Rio Ferdinand continuously showed dips in form.
All the while, Fellaini’s Belgium team-mates were enjoying successful seasons. Belgium captain and Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, for example, is still in the running for the Premier League title, just like Eden Hazard, whose club side Chelsea still has a chance to win the Champions League.
What’s more, Belgium boss Marc Wilmots will surely attempt to exert a calming influence over Fellaini, and after this year’s Moyes debacle in Manchester, this might be exactly what the midfielder needs to start performing again.
Fellaini must relish the chance to leave Manchester behind for a while and surround himself with colleagues who are under much less pressure. Seeing as the World Cup in Brazil will be Belgium’s first World Cup in 12 years, fans will not expect the Rode Duivels to win it. At the same time, it’s clear the Belgians have a solid and talented squad, and it’s not unlikely they will at least reach the knockout stages.
For Fellaini, the World Cup provides the ultimate opportunity to show Manchester United’s new manager that he’s not one of Moyes’ mistakes. Provided he plays his part, a solid World Cup performance can spark Fellaini back to life at Manchester United.