Tag Archives: david moyes

Marouane Fellaini – It’s Not All Bad, Is It?

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…

 

 

 

 

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.

LVG one of many recruitment mistakes

Let’s lay out some of the facts. Manchester United have picked up a mere 3 points from a possible 18 in their last 6 games. This includes no wins and only 3 goals. That poor form has led to Manchester United having their lowest points total in their  Premier League history. Ever lower than the famous David Moyes season. Even then the club was still in the Capital One Cup and into the last 16 of Europe. Neither claim can be made by Van Gaal and his men.

The poor results have left the Dutchman with a win ratio of less than 50%.  These games have not come against top sides. Leicester was the only side in that group with realistic Champions league ambitions. With all this in mind it would be very easy to point the finger at Van Gaal for everything. While he must take the blame for the boring style of football and questionable team selections. One problem has persisted at the club for many years now. It goes back as far as Sir Alex Ferguson. That problem is recruitment. What many fans may find shocking is that Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal are all to blame.

Van Gaal and his coaching staff look on.
Van Gaal and his coaching staff look on

The ironic twist to all this is that if Manchester United had done half as well over the last 5 years in the transfer market as they have in the commercial one the club would be walking away with the current Premier League title race. The poor judgment includes selling too many players, selling the wrong players, letting talented players leave for nothing, buying poorly and overspending. If you were to grade the clubs transfer activity since the day Paul Pogba walked out for nothing you would give them a D+ at best.

Sadly losing a talented youth product is not an isolated incident at the club any more. The poor judgement of players goes back as far as 2007 with Gerard Pique. The now World Cup and Champions league winner was sold for £6 million while Sir Alex decided Jonny Evans who moved to West Brom last summer was the better prospect. While in more recent times two former strikers who came up from the clubs academy have come back to haunt the club in the form of Josh King and Danny Welbeck. While few would argue King was a loss to the club many fans still feel disgruntled at the sale of England international Welbeck. While the club has brought in a younger striker in Martial, his goal return ratio so far would not back up the theory that Welbeck was surplus to requirements.

Welbeck scores the winner at Old Trafford
Welbeck scores the winner at Old Trafford

Before Manchester United fans could always argue that any player who left the club never achieved as much at their new club as Manchester United was achieving. This even includes the loss of big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Everywhere was a step down from Manchester United. This has changed in recent seasons, even if we look at the last two seasons  Former players Danny Welbeck, Patrice Evra, Rafael Da Silva, Angel Di Maria and Javier Hernandez are all at clubs that have reached the last 16 of the Champions league. There is now life after Manchester United and it’s very enjoyable for many. The club has let go of many players that are still capable of playing at the highest level, while not bringing in enough replacements. A problem made evident by the sheer lack of numbers in the squad.

The Mexican now has 17 goals in 14 games in Germany as Manchester United struggle for goals.
The Mexican now has 17 goals in 14 games in Germany as Manchester United struggle for goals.

The club has also bought poorly in recent years. While some players have been successes such as Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin the problem can be shown to its full extent with a few comparisons. In 2010 Manchester United signed Bebe for £7.4 million. Sir Alex Ferguson later admitted he had never seen the player play. Little wonder when he only signed his first professional contract a few weeks previous. Had Sir Alex seen Bebe play he surely would not have made the purchase. While mistakes happen, in recent weeks Manchester United have been linked with a multimillion pound move for Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriquez. In the same summer that Bebe went to Manchester United, Porto signed Rodriquez, for just £5 million despite the fact he scored 5 goals in 7 for Banfield in the Copa Libertadores which is the South American equivalent to the Champions League. It was almost like the club was determined to prove they were smarter than  everybody else by finding a gem nobody had heard about while ignoring a prospect attracting the attention of many of Europe’s leading powers.

The signings of Marouane Fellaini and Nick Powell a little closer to home come as the more obvious examples. In the summer that the club signed Marouane Fellaini for over £27 million, Tottenham bought Christian Eriksen another “Number 10” for just £11 million.  While Fellaini is used as a scapegoat by many United fans, Eriksen has gone onto be one of Tottenham’s leading men as they compete with Manchester United for a top 4 spot. Which player fits into the philosophy of the club more? Manchester United have also wasted millions on big names signings such as Di Maria, Falcao and Zaha.

Could Wilfred Zaha have provided more pace than Juan Mata out right this season?
Could Wilfred Zaha have provided more pace than Juan Mata out right this season?

As mentioned above the final example I will mention is of Nick Powell and Deli Ali. If any two young midfielders have made an impact in the football in recent years it has been these two. While it seemed like a good signing at the time, Nick Powell one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signings has failed to deliver. Problems with injuries on the pitch and discipline off it have meant that the one – time prodigy like so many others seems to have missed his chance. While on the other hand Ali has impressed consistently for Tottenham so much so he looks set to be a major part of England’s plans for the European Championships in France next summer. What makes it worse was that Manchester United could have signed Ali soon after Van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford. The boy had a chance to impress and he did just that, dominating the Manchester United midfield as the MK Dons beat United 4-0 in the Capital One cup. The talented young man who would be scoring goals in the Premier League 12 months later, ripped United apart in front of their very eyes and yet they did nothing about it. A far cry from the days, when Manchester United made a move for Cristiano Ronaldo, just hours after he had impressed in a pre – season game. How no coach or player spoke up and said something similar about Ali is only a mystery. But in reality fans can say the same thing about many of the recruitment decisions at Old Trafford in recent times.