Marouane Fellaini – now there’s a player that divides opinion. By divide opinion, I mean that Manchester United fans normally debate on whether he is simply just not a Manchester United player, or he is downright terrible. Myself included.
A quick look through my Tweets which include our Belgian maestro’s name since he signed back in 2013 read something like this…
Plus point after tonight, at least Fellaini is suspended…
— Jamie Ward (@jamie_ward84) April 27, 2017
Marouane Fellaini…breaking Manchester United hearts since 2013 💔
— Jamie Ward (@jamie_ward84) December 4, 2016
Fellaini has been utterly atrocious. Not that I expected any less, but he has been an embarrassment. #MUFC
— Jamie Ward (@jamie_ward84) October 23, 2016
Every time I see Fellaini’s name on the team sheet I die a little bit inside…#MUFC
— Jamie Ward (@jamie_ward84) January 23, 2016
It’s fair to say that I’ve been pretty scathing over the years, as I am sure have most of you. But, here’s the thing. Something strange has happened. It’s painful, so I’ll just come out with it. And here it is…
My name is Jamie Ward, and I have warmed to Marouane Fellaini
When Jose Mourinho was appointed manager in May 2016 we all thought Fellaini’s days as a Manchester United player were done. As every second during the transfer window last summer, again in January and then the current one, we all prayed that this was the one player that would be let go. But he didn’t. Morurinho constantly claimed that he was happy with the 29-year-old.
“But why, Jose?” we all screamed.
But now I’m beginning to see it. Fellaini has not started a single game this season, and nor do I expect him too either. However, what he has proven during the early stages of this season was that he has now become a valuable squad player. Mourinho sees this. He offers us something different. In a squad that now oozes flair and pace, Fellaini is the type of player that does the messy things, and actually does them reasonably well. He is never going to be a footballer that gives us that wow factor, but he does have his uses…trust me.
A lot of us couldn’t see the logic in bringing Fellaini on against Leicester, with the game finely balanced at 1-0, whilst Ander Herrera continued to warm the bench. And this is why we’re not the manager. What Fellaini did during his 20 or so minutes on the pitch was add a different dimension. Leicester were producing the type of football that they have perfected over the last three or so seasons. Sit back, soak up the pressure and hope to capatalise on any mistakes made by the opposition. We needed something different. The 2015-16 Premier League champions had to chase for the equaliser, and Mahrez was beginning to show glimpses of his obvious class. Fellaini gave us that something different.
The former Everton midfielder complimented Matic well in the middle of the park, bullied Leicester into making mistakes, offered us some height up top and was eventually rewarded with a goal. Yes, it was a messy goal, probably the type of goal that some might say suits his end product.
His performance against Swansea was perhaps a little more understated but the end result was similar. Fellaini entered the fray at 1-0, put in a shift similar to that against Leicester and United eventually ran out 4-0 winners. No, I’m not saying that this was down to the Belgian, but I’m perhaps beginning to realise that Fellaini changes our style when he comes on which perhaps unsettles the opposition.
It’s fair to say now that Fellaini is perhaps a victim of what can now be referred to the dark era, the Moyes era. Fellaini was indeed a panic buy once Moyes realised that taking over Manchester United in real life is nothing like taking over Manchester United on Football Manager. Once it became apparent that he couldn’t attract the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Cesc Fabregas and Sami Khedira, he turned his attentions back to Fellaini. After being teased with big names all summer, we were disappointed to end up with just the big, bullying midfielder from Everton.
In hindsight, we never forgave him for that. It wasn’t Fellaini’s fault, but he was on the back foot from the moment he stepped into Old Trafford. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending all of his performances over the last 3 or so seasons. What I am saying is that it is now perhaps time to take off our blinkers, maybe appreciate the fact the he adds something different to the squad, something that may be extremely useful as the season drags on.
So, in response to one of my above, aged Tweets, I say this….Marouane Fellaini, in Manchester United hearts since 2017.