Is Marouane Fellaini the Answer to Man United's midfield woes?
Manchester United have had one of the most frustrating transfer summers of all time. Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman of Man United, known by the footballing world as the man in charge of United’s transfer dealings. Woodward has been the subject of harsh criticism by the press and fans on social media due to such an infuriating summer of rejection after rejection of transfer bids. Manchester United, yesterday, made an uncharacteristic late panic scramble on Deadline Day to buy several players to give United fans something to finally smile about after 2 months of frustration. After a grueling roller-coaster Deadline Day for Manchester United and fans alike, they made a big signing…not big in terms of name…big in terms of hair – that signing was Everton Central-Midfielder Marouane Fellaini at the very last moment of the Transfer Window. Fellaini has signed for a suspected fee of £27.5m and will wear the no. 31 shirt for the Red Devils. Will Fellaini be the signing to help United lift the League for a record 21st time?
Marouane Fellaini will definitely have an impact for Manchester United, not only because of the thousands of fans that will turn up at Old Trafford with oversized Fellaini afros, but he could offer what the United midfield has been craving for. Ever since the absence of Roy Keane, Manchester United have lacked a hard man who bosses the midfield – since the retirement of United Legend Roy Keane they’ve only really replaced him with creative centre midfielders who are pass masters rather than a tackling tough man. Paul Scholes was the last man who got close to the toughness of Keane, but with the retirement of the ‘Ginger Maestro’, United needed a defensive midfielder who can be an enforcer in midfield. Many successful teams in Europe have that enforcer that plays deep in midfield and that acts almost like a deterrent scaring opposition teams take Bastian Schweinsteiger for Bayern Munich and Yaya Toure for Man City for example. Fellaini may not be as technically gifted as those players but he can certainly be that effective hard man the Man United midfield badly needed.
Last season United tried so many centre-midfielders to partner Carrick; Giggs, Jones, Anderson, Cleverley, Rooney and more, none of them were very consistent partners for Michael Carrick. Marouane Fellaini, I think could be the perfect partner to Carrick in United’s midfield. A defensive powerhouse in Fellaini and a creative wizard in Carrick could be the perfect combination as a midfield pairing. Marouane Fellaini last season made an average of 4 defensive actions per game (clearances, interceptions and blocks) and received 9 yellow cards in the Premier League – both stats show that he is a player that likes to get stuck in and use every inch of his 6ft 4 inch frame. If you watch every match Fellaini has played, you can see that he is a player who can make a tackle and has been the steel in Everton’s midfield for the last few years. Of course with this type of player, he receives yellow cards and red cards on occasions, but that is a risk worth taking seeing as though the positives of a powerhouse midfielder outweigh the disciplinary risks. However you see it, one thing is for sure, he will definitely add much needed strength in a usually weak Manchester United midfield.
Another way he will affect Manchester United is the goals he will add to the midfield. Last year Chelsea defenders combined scored more goals than Manchester United midfielders combined (barely reaching double figures). It just goes to show how few goals the United midfielders have in them and compared to other top European midfields it was embarrassing how many more goals Europe’s Elite managed from their midfielders compared to Man United’s. Marouane Fellaini is a goal scoring midfielder, last season he proved his goal scoring exploits as he was the top goal scorer for Everton last year with 11 goals in 31 appearances. He’s a deadly threat from set pieces, however also he is really underrated as a a finisher as last season he showed he can finish as good as many strikers himself. He always seems to be in an around the box, finishing chances that come his way with a good shot accuracy rate (60%). Fellaini therefore will be an underrated goal threat from Manchester United’s midfield – something United and fans have been demanding for a few years.
One way that many United fans wouldn’t think that Marouane Fellaini would add, is the creativity and assists he creates. Not many people praise Fellaini’s playmaker credentials but stats suggest Fellaini created 40 chances (35 key passes and 5 assists) last season. Michaeal Carrick was lauded as one of the best midfielders of the Premier League and rightly so with impressive performance after impressive performance – however it is very surprising to note that he only created 37 chances (33 key passes and 4 assists) meaning Fellaini had a more impressive season in terms of play-making. That means not only have United bought a powerhouse midfield, who can score a bag of goals, they have bought a player with an overlooked creative spark that could prove brilliant this season with the quality of Manchester United’s strikers.
Overall it is clear that Marouane Fellaini is a quality midfielder with so many aspects to his game, he is not only a defensive midfielder that can tackle, he has several other impressive qualities that can really make a difference to Manchester United. Of course it would have been great to see a second central-midfielder bought in the ilk of Fabregas, Modric, Herrera etc but there is no point in dwelling on what United don’t have – I happily admit as a United fan myself that this summer has been farcical and embarrassing in terms of transfer activity for United fans. However United fans should not give up hope of winning the Premier League this year yet with the arrrival of Marouane Fellaini. United have a squad that won the Premier League by 11 points, meaning lots of signing of were not necessary – the way I look at…is that United were one centre-midfield signing off a perfect summer. The impact of Marouane Fellaini should not be by anyway underestimated as he can solve several problems that Man United have in midfield such as the lack of goals in midfield, lack of steel in the lacklustre midfield and even a creative spark. United have added a quality midfielder to a Premier League winning squad. Pundits have already written United off but you should never write off the Champions even more so now with the addition of Marouane Fellaini – he is gong to be an underrated success.
By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786)