6 Reasons Why Marouane Fellaini Is a Perfect Fit for Manchester United
Although Manchester United’s transfer window wasn’t the bustling success that many a Red Devil will have been hoping for, the deadline day signature of Marouane Fellaini provided a gleam of light at the end of the tunnel.
The Belgian international joined for a fee of £27.5 million, although, as the Telegraph’s Mark Ogden explains, £4 million of that was Fellaini’s forfeited loyalty bonus.
Considering only three transfers were completed by the Red Devils this summer, it’s fair to say that the club dealt in terms of quality and not quantity.
That being the case, here’s why the one big signing that Manchester United did eventually sew up is one of the best they could have hoped for.
All stats are provided courtesy of Squawka.
1. He’s the Hero Old Trafford Deserves
To misquote one Police Commissioner Jim Gordon of Batman mythology, Marouane Fellaini is the hero Old Trafford deserves as well as the one it needs right now.
For some time now, a tougher midfielder presence capable of breaking up the opposition’s movements has been the major thing lacking at Manchester United.
Although many have tried to fill the void since, Darren Fletcher was actually the last star of that particular mould that the Red Devils were able to call upon, settling for many an imposter since the Scotsman began succumbing to a chronic bowel condition.
Last season, Fellaini made 60 tackles and won 151 of 253 attempted headers. That last stat is particularly encouraging when one considers United won just 530 headed duels across the entire of last season, meaning the Belgian was as good for just under a quarter of that number.
What’s more, the 25-year-old achieved all that despite being positioned in a less favoured attacking role, as opposed to the defensive midfield that Sky Sports have quoted the star saying that he would rather play in.
2. One of Moyes’ Boys
Despite apparent interest from a host of other outfits, it was Moyes who showed the most interest in signing one of Standard Liege’s budding stars back in 2008, plumping a fee of £15 million on the services of Fellaini.
In his five years as a Toffee, the Brussels native excelled during the latter stages of his development, building up a rapport with his Premier League mentor that will undoubtedly have played a massive role in his most recent move.
Evidently keen to link back up with his former Everton boss, Fellaini will strive to relight the fire that at times looked so bright at Goodison Park.
For some players, featuring under the right boss is essential to their success and while that’s not to say Fellaini would have played any differently under Martinez, it’s understandable that the player isn’t keen on upsetting a formula he already knows works in his favour.
3. Belgian Bromance
Having arrived at Old Trafford, Fellaini becomes the fifth Belgian player on the books at the Theatre of Dreams, the other four being Adnan Januzaj, Charni Ekangamene, Andreas Pereira and Marnick Vermijl, currently on loan at NEC.
While it perhaps doesn’t speak specifically of Fellaini’s talents, Belgium is a nation whose stock is only on the rise having soared into the European hierarchy in recent years.
Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen, Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Christian Benteke and a whole other batch of prominent stars hail from Belgium and fly their flag in the English top flight with startling success.
The tip of many a hipster to do well at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, there seems to be something in the water in Belgium and the coaching mechanisms in place there would appear to have things spot on for now.
In short, buying up as much Belgian talent as possible is a mentality that some clubs would be justified in taking in recent years, and Fellaini’s simply at the forefront of such a movement, set to go nowhere but up.
4. Coming Up Short
In the first half of last season, Manchester United managed to win an average of less than half their headed duels and only began challenging on a more consistent basis in the air after January.
In fact, the Red Devils’ Boxing Day win over Newcastle United in the 2012/13 season was the first time in the campaign that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had won over 50 percent of aerial matters.
Enter Marouane Fellaini.
As is aforementioned, last term saw the 25-year-old win more than 150 headed duels, which is perhaps unsurprising when one considers he stands at a towering 6’5”.
Michael Carrick stands as the only other midfielder in Moyes’ ranks who’s taller than six foot, which sometimes goes lost even with that being the case simply due to the playmaker not being the most physical of stars.
With Fellaini now among his ranks, Moyes can hope to fare a little better in any route one football that his side might look to play, as well as offer slightly more of a threat when it comes to set pieces.
5. Maximising Team Potential
By drafting in Fellaini, United have almost several signings in one, allowing others a breath of freedom after a period that saw several stars having to accommodate as a result of the team’s shortcomings in the engine room.
Wayne Rooney was one of those feeling the effect of a lack of presence in the centre of the pitch, even going as far as having to fill in there himself on occasion.
However, with Fellaini now under his command, Moyes can field several other players in their more preferred positions, giving the Scotsman more formational freedom, in kind.
Shinji Kagawa is another who’s likely to benefit from Fellaini’s acquisition, no longer having to settle for a place in central midfield or out on the wing, but perhaps given the necessary game time he needs in behind the striker.
The true sign of a great player isn’t just about doing great things on the individual scale, but enhancing the gifts of all those around you, which is something Fellaini should come to do not so long after his Old Trafford arrival.
6. Versatility Is a Virtue; Possess It If You Can
A growing trend at the elite level of the modern game, and specifically one for midfielders, is the ability to play in several different positions, adapting to the needs of a manager or club.
Arturo Vidal does it at Juventus, Bastian Schweinsteiger has done it at Bayern Munich and now Fellaini will be expected to join the versatile midfield ranks of the European big guns.
Last season, the masses were so impressed with the attacking exploits of Fellaini performing as a No. 10 that it was a big shock when the player announced that he still intended to revert to defensive midfield at some point.
However, that doesn’t mean the days of holding up the ball as almost a centre forward-esque platform are over for Fellaini, as it would be folly for any manager to ignore a talent that the player so clearly has in his locker.
Even if only sporadically, Fellaini is likely to pop up in different responsibilities at Manchester United and is simply more of an all-round athlete than profiled as any specific type of player.
Where Moyes chooses to take that potential, only time will tell, but one can bet that Fellaini’s future isn’t nailed down just yet.