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Just what is his role at Manchester United?

Marouane Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini isn’t the most elegant; he’s far from the creative outlet that Manchester United heavily pursued during the summer, first with Cesc Fabregas and then eventually Ander Herrera.

The criticism, or at least questioning, of David Moyes has been that if he really wanted Fellaini, if the Belgian truly was an important addition perhaps alongside a midfielder in the mould of the aforementioned Spaniards, why not buy him when he was available for a few million pounds less? After all, as the former Everton manager, shouldn’t he have been aware of the intricacies of Fellaini’s contract?

One of the problems is the Fellaini hasn’t really done anything since arriving at Old Trafford. Is it a problem borne out of another one? Moyes spent the majority of the last five years training and utilising Fellaini – a self-professed defensive midfielder – as either a striker or No.10, and now he’s forcing him further back in midfield into an area that, despite what the player may say himself, looks to be unfamiliar territory.

So what is the point of Fellaini?

It’s easy to ask these questions when the results aren’t coming in for United and Moyes, but these questions would warrant equal merit even if United were top of the Premier League.

Under Alex Ferguson, the midfield ‘problem’ was heavily masked due to the strengths in other areas. Under Ferguson, United won league titles without a clear defensive midfielder. Often, Michael Carrick held the deepest position of the midfield two or three. Carrick, the oft-overlooked player who doesn’t have to be flash, quick or even mobile, will nevertheless keep the ball moving and ensure that United retain possession. Alongside him, it would be easy to see why someone like Fabregas would be preferred, someone who takes the ball forward and carves out chances for others further up the pitch.

Fellaini doesn’t do that, nor is he showing any ability of note in defending. He can be criticised for allowing opposition attackers to race past him while he jogs or even walks back, while at times the whole occasion of playing for Manchester United can seem overwhelming, allowing not only the opposition players but the game altogether to pass him by.

If Moyes decides to use Fellaini behind the striker as he regularly did at Everton, what would that say of the manager’s mentality? I’ve spoken in the past about ditching the underdog mentality and going all out for a win instead of, for example, taking Wayne Rooney off in the dying moments of a game at home to Southampton. The intention was clear, and it backfired. But equally, what would Fellaini in the No.10 role at United say about Shinji Kagawa, or indeed the clash of style with Robin van Persie?

There is such a thing as buying a player to either appease the fans or to ensure scathing criticism for a total lack of transfer action is avoided. Fellaini isn’t really doing anything, but what would be said if no one was bought during the summer window?

What is Fellaini’s role in the United team?

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Article title: Just what is his role at Manchester United?

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