Since first arriving in the Premier League as a pretty much unknown entity with Everton, Marouane Fellaini has certainly proved a character worthy of splitting public opinion right down the middle within the English footballing community.
The big Belgian either goes down as a major influence in most of his respective matches – with a distinctly commanding approach and keen eye for goal – or he is simply seen as a clumsy, out-dated type of player who, for want of a better phrase, has a reputation as a bit of a donkey.
David Moyes definitely seemed to admirer the player in question however, as after bringing the now 27-year-old to Goodison Park all the way back in 2008, the former Manchester United boss splashed out an incredible £27million in allowing Fellaini to make the illustrious switch to Old Trafford last season.
In making less than 20 league starts throughout the entire 2013/14 campaign with the Red Devils though, the midfielder’s new life away from the Toffees hardly began with the best of starts – despite the somewhat upturn in fortunes the no. 31 has recently displayed for Louis van Gaal.
So then, with the lofty front-man seemingly beginning somewhat of a renaissance during the tail end of the 2014/15 season, has Marouane Fellaini made a vast improvement in his performances this campaign, or does he still simply go down as a huge waste of money for Manchester United?
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Well, when it comes to actual ability with the football in the modern game, the curly-haired utility man doesn’t exactly go up there with the greats.
Fellaini possesses little to no grace or elegance when moving across the pitch, he often promotes the ugly side of the game with his consistently rugged style – and when it comes to physical duels with most of his Premier League opposition – the Belgian international is still all elbows in the air, and still has a tendency give away unnecessary fails in dangerous areas.
In other words, the towering attacker is just not in the same category as the likes of David Silva and Cesc Frabregas, yet as he cost roughly in the same region as those aforementioned stars, question marks simply have to be raised when it comes to the original price tag Manchester United shelled out for the player’s services.
Having said that, none of this is to say that Marouane Fellaini doesn’t have an impact for the Red Devils when Louis van Gaal works around the Belgian’s game. On the contrary, the afro-sporting no.31 can certainly dominate when balls are fed to him in the air, he can operate in a few different positions for his manager including centre-forward and centre-defensive-midfield, and also has the ability to change games in his team’s favour when things are going his way.
That much is certainly true.
However, when Manchester United’s Dutch boss opts to work around the versatile midfielder, he seemingly sacrifices an entertaining playing style in the process. For all the work put into Louis van Gaal’s dossier all those weeks back in the post-match interview against West Ham, the Red Devils still have to go down as a long-ball team when his side rely on Fellaini’s aerial prowess.
The likes of Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and even Wayne Rooney to some extent, get completely left out when lofted passes keep flying over their heads in the heart of the midfield – which by most accounts from those who have frequently watched van Gaal’s star-studded side this season – hasn’t exactly been the most pleasing on the eye approach to take in the grand scheme of things.
Yes, Marouane Fellaini has popped up with his fair share of goals this campaign, yes he may have outshone the more high profile likes of Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao in 2014/15, and yes, the big Belgian is certainly having a strong influence with his somewhat match-turning performances of late – but as £27million still seems a lot to have spent on pretty much just a glorified Andy Carroll – Manchester United should nevertheless view this deal with regret more than anything else.
With Fellaini successfully getting on the score-sheet in his side’s recent triumph in the Manchester derby however, the Old Trafford faithful will likely have forgotten about all the negatives that come along with their towering no.31, instead dwelling on the promising form their side have shown with the £27m man firmly in the starting XI.