Much like the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, Marouane Fellaini is a polarizing figure and divides opinion like no other player, except for maybe John O’Shea; whom up to this day falls either in the misunderstood genius camp, as the man who nutmegged Figo, or a Jack of all trades, but a run of the mill at best mid table premier league player.
Fellaini I have come to liken to one divisive Lannister in particular, Tyrion Lannister.
An Imp and a giant eh?
A gargantuan sum of money was spent on the big man when he was unceremoniously summoned from Everton on the stroke of midnight, ungainly, gangly, bush haired and flushed face he looked like he had just won the lottery at his presentation, his peformances at first excused and then later on jeered as his name was bandied about as the first player out of the revolving doors at Carrington together with his champion, his David Moyes. Eventually his Guardian Angel’s luck ran out and he was widely expected to saunter right after him, nothing of the sort happened, that was the first death knell of his Old Trafford career sounded he did not heed it, much like how Tyrion escaped death at the hands of Catelyn Stark and Lisa Arryn at the Eyrie. His champion was the very anti thesis of what Fellaini stood for, a football purist at heart and mind Louis Van Gaal wasn’t supposed to have any use for this exorbitantly priced, Baobab haired Hulk who couldn’t pass the ball any better than any u-10 kid in the Ajax academy.
“I wish I was the monster you think I am. I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you. I would gladly give my life to see you swallow it”.
Those were the heartfelt words the Imp spat out at his trial to the audience who were ooh-aahing at the false witness being brought against him, might as well have been Fellaini saying them,When United were drawing 1-1 with Valencia at Old Trafford in a pre season game and Fellaini was introduced in the dying minutes the Old Trafford mob cheered sarcastically, the height of disgrace but he took it all in his stride and lashed in a wonderful winner in the last minute, finally breaking his duck, that should have been a sign of the times and things to come, a forewarning to the fans who would gladly throttle him for some of his more woeful displays in the past.
The media was never far behind in the pitch fork taking and conscious agitation with regards to Fellaini, how United deviated from World class signings to pitiful, cart before the horse signings, a complete waste of money, they wanted him to fail so badly they could taste it, it was an insatiable need, a need to kick out at a dying, inebriated man clutching at a straw and that straw was being hacked to pieces by hundreds of men with hacksaws and sharpened axes purposefully lined with wolfsbane. What did Master Fellaini have to say to them? “I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy and your joy will turn into ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid” With David Moyes battered and bruised, black and blue from the English media’s battering ram campaign and hounded into exile they had turned their focus on his protégé and the doomsday banners already unfurled after Van Gaal was confirmed as United manger it was all but over for Fellaini, a mooted transfer to Napoli fell through and then Westbrom, QPR, Cambridge, Tottenham and Liverpool happened and Tyrion’s words to Cersei Lannister echoed in the English media, he was making them eat humble pie by the spadefulls.
“Though I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your facility with murder. And if the day ever comes when you’re tempted to sell me out, remember this: whatever their price, I’ll beat it. I like living. Those might be the exact same words that ‘feather chest’ Fellaini used on Louis Van Gaal and he has only gone from strength to strength trying to impress his champion much like how the Imp gifted gold and authority to Ser Bronn as a pledge of allegiance. Van Gaal has not been cowed by the wolves in grand ma clothing trying to whip up a storm in relation to how Fellaini was used, well apart from Allardycegate that is, he has catered to Fellaini’s strengths and even altered his puritan almost dictatorial approach towards how he feels a game of football should ebb and flow, a long ball or two or fifteen launched forward would always find a runway, a home, an exile with no question asked in Fellaini’s rather amiable chest, the headquarters of the aerial ball association, and Marouane and Tyrion both had this to say, “a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That’s why I read so much Louis Van Gaal Jon Snow.
Or maybe when Van Gaal was first appointed and he wanted to flog off Fellaini for being a big blob of hair and chest and the mop had a cute little tete-a-tete with him and told him, “Oh a monster? Perhaps you should speak to me more softly then. Monsters are dangerous, and just now kings are dying like flies”. Referencing David Moyes of course.
When he scored against Queens Park Rangers he ran to the bench and hugged Adnan Januzaj, the United Nations poster child who had not been getting much game time and when asked about it he and Tyrion issued a joint statement and said, “I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things”.
Of course it’s Fellaini who gives the rousing, pre match, Martin Luther Kingesque speech and before the Spurs and Liverpool game he told his mates, “those are brave men knocking at our door, let’s go and kill them”. And then he yodeled and ran off beating his chest to the tunnel only to meekly reappear to pick his shorts and shirt.
All in all Marouane Fellaini according to yours truly isn’t a phenomenal passer and neither is he an orchestrator, nor does he move the ball as quickly as many would like and it grates at times but as gobsmacking a player as those qualities would make him, he has other worldly almost ethereal a skillset not to be found in many players in Europe. He is the heavy metal to Michael Carrick’s Mozart like languid passing, he is the break dance to Ander Herrera’s foxtrot, he is the Tupac to Juan Mata’s graceful Michael Jackson man in the mirror. He could be an asset of unbridled excellence in Europe next season due to his rather confusing and honestly mind numbing skill set, in the Champions league I fail to recall a player of his type in any of the elite teams who all have jig saw lightning feet and dizzying technique but none of Marouane’s aerial ball retention ability and Ser Gregor Cleganeesque build. We all hope he forgives us and lets sleeping dogs lie, a crossbow to the heart while on the toilet seat has never been a fanciful idea, you have always been our son Master Bakkioui.
£27.5 million looks like a snip now, an absolute steal, a Jules Rimet under a pauper’s bed kind of aberration.
“ A Lannister always pays his debts”.