Will Marouane Fellaini have a place at Mourinho’s Manchester United?
Marouane Fellaini became a scapegoat for a poorly performing Manchester United side in the last couple of seasons. The lumbering Belgian was frequently criticised for poor performances in midfield, with fans stating that he lacked both the technical skill and awareness to play in the centre of the pitch.
At Everton, the 28-year-old was deployed as an attacking midfielder, a deep lying target man. His job was to hold the ball up, link the play and break into the box as a goal-scoring threat – and a threat he was. In his last season at Everton, he scored 11 times and assisted five, while also winning five aerial duels per game on average.
At United, under both Moyes and van Gaal, the Belgium international was used almost exclusively as a holding or central midfielder. Both roles require more discipline and acute tactical awareness in comparison to his role at Everton, and while he improved at United, Fellaini still does not possess the talents required to fulfil that role in a team pushing for the title.
In spite of that, he still averaged an 84% pass completion rate in the Premier League last season, proof that he isn’t completely out of his depth in the United line-up.
Despite his less-than-encouraging performances in the last couple of seasons, Marouane Fellaini could yet play an important role in Jose Mourinho’s team. Jose notoriously fell out with Juan Mata during his time at Chelsea. Many believed that Mata simply didn’t contribute enough in defensive phases for the system to work. He also attempted to mould Oscar into a better defensive player.
History dictates that Mourinho required a certain level of versatility in his attacking midfielders and Fellaini could be the perfect option.
Louis van Gaal’s possession-based play didn’t create incredible defensive statistics on paper, but when Fellaini was on the pitch, United looked much more solid at set pieces and defending within their own 18-yard box. His tenacity and 6’4” frame led him to make clearance after clearance when the Old Trafford outfit found themselves under fire, nullifying one of the main threats against a United side that rarely lost possession.
The Belgian’s defensive weaknesses did show themselves in open play. At times, his lack of discipline led to dangerous tackles and even completely losing attackers, leaving his defence vulnerable.
Even so, Fellaini will undoubtedly provide more defensively than Mourinho’s other options at Number 10, if he chooses to deploy him there. The question is whether he will, however. With talents like Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and even Andreas Pereira in the side, Mourinho may struggle to find a place for the Belgian target man.
Even with the other options, Marouane Fellaini can still provide a fantastic option for Manchester United this season. He provides an element of physicality otherwise absent from the midfield, and would surely be a useful tool in Mourinho’s locker if he can come close to replicating his performances for Everton.
With Marouane Fellaini seen as an excellent option for Sunderland under David Moyes, such a demand for his signature may see Jose being quite keen to pick up money for a man who does not necessarily fit seamlessly into his plans. The Belgian could also be keen to link up with the Scotsman who has seen fit to twice bring him to a club he has been managing at the time.
Sunderland themselves relied almost exclusively on Jermain Defoe in an attacking sense in the 2015/16 campaign, and although this did eventually come off, Moyes is rightly aware that he needs more in this area to avoid consistently taking part in a relegation battle.
Whether Fellaini could end up replicating his Everton form in the North East by performing a role as the battering ram to allow Defoe to express himself and snaffle up the chances created by the Belgian remains to be seen. Wherever he ends up, the reported Sunderland target clearly needs to be somewhere where the team plays to his strengths, and then we will see the significant damage he can cause to the opposition.
Featured image: All rights reserved by hào ki?t
Will also writes for footballticketnet