Transfer Focus: Marouane Fellaini’s departure signals the end of a dark era at Old Trafford

According to reports from Sky Sports News, Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is set to join Shandong Luneng.

What’s the word?

The Belgium international became Manchester United’s regular Plan B under Jose Mourinho, who often used Fellaini’s height and power in the closing stages of games to create problems in the opposition box – usually with mixed results.

He was even handed a new contract until 2020 with the option of a further year during the summer, but the midfielder has barely featured since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced the Portuguese on an interim basis in December.

According to Sky Sports News, Fellaini has already passed a medical and an agreement in principle has been reached between the two clubs. It’s now a matter of a successful discussion over personal terms.

Solskjaer having a say in the transfer market?

Perhaps. Manchester United haven’t made any signings this month, but obviously they have now decided to part with a player who hasn’t been in the interim manager’s plans.

There may be long-term factors behind Fellaini’s departure – chiefly the fact he’s 31 years of age and has never quite replicated the form of his final season at Everton when he grabbed eleven goals and five assists in the Premier League.

It’s certainly possible that Solskjaer played some role in the decision to let Fellaini leave, whether that’s actively suggesting the towering midfielder should be sold or simply not standing in the way of his departure, especially after the club moved to secure his future less than a year ago.

The end of United’s dark era

Rightly or wrongly, Fellaini has come to represent many of the deep-lying issues at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013; a¬†scatter-gun approach in the transfer market, a vast collection of good quality squad players rather than top class starters and most importantly of all, the implemented styles of football under Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes that were so far removed from the club’s traditional identity.

Solskjaer, while tactically expedient at times, has breathed new life into the club and during his short spell in charge the style of football has vastly improved.

Although it remains to be seen whether the Norwegian will still be in charge by the end of next season, it feels almost inevitable that an entertaining philosophy will be one of the chief factors in appointing the next permanent Red Devils boss.

Moving on Fellaini, a player who has unfortunately epitomised so many failings of the last five-and-a-half-years, is another nod of acknowledgement towards the importance of maintaining United’s historic principles.