After last season’s debacle under David Moyes when Manchester United finished seventh in the league, Maroune Fellaini was an easy target for critics and cynics to point the finger for the team’s poor performances. The big Belgian did little to erase the thoughts as he failed to score a single goal throughout the campaign.
Many tipped last season’s deadline day signing to be the first to leave the club in the summer. Even the new manager Louis Van Gaal washed his hands on him and the Belgian was that close to joining Napoli in the summer. However, the injury which he suffered right at the end of the window blocked him from moving away.
When Fellaini returned back from his injury, he did not have a place in the team’s starting lineup and had to come from the bench to make an impact and he did just that to get everyone on his side. When United were trailing Westbromwich Albion, Van Gaal replaced not-so-fully-fit Herrera and brought on Fellaini as a half time substitute. Within minutes after coming on, the Belgian scored a wonder goal, which happened to be his first for the club. Thus started the revolution….
After his solid performance against Westbrom, Van Gaal started him against table toppers Chelsea the following weekend. Fellaini paid back his managers belief in him by putting out a man of the match performance against the blues. His work rate in the match was second to none as he covered the pitch more than any player in the match. He completed the maximum sprints on the day and was always willing to go forward to help his teams attack.
Fellaini covered 12.17 kilometers on the pitch, which was the most by any player. Besides, he managed 70 sprints in the match, which was also the highest by any player on the day. It was not just the distance which he covered but, also the great job which he did on Fabregas. Fellaini closed the Spanish maestro so quickly that he managed to complete only three passes in the first 20 minutes and only 11 in the entire first half. Given that Fabregas has made more passes than anyone in the league, it was remarkable that Fellaini was able to keep him at bay for most parts of the game. Moreover, it was the rebound from Fellaini’s header only Van Persie managed to equalise in the end.
After that he put in solid performances against Manchester City and Crystal Palace and made a place for his own in the team sheet. Then came the Arsenal test for Belgian. When the Gunners overrun United in the first 30 minutes of the game, Red Devils needed someone to get them away from danger to relieve some pressure and on stepped Fellaini.
The Belgian won the midfield battle with relative ease and was at the key of many counter attacks which the team had started. Notably, just passed the half hour mark, he won the ball deep into his own half and freed Van Perise on the far right hand side with an inch perfect diagonal cross. Moreover, Fellaini initiated the move from which Angel Di Maria was made to run free at Arsenal’s defence from which Rooney scored the decisive second goal of the game.
Fellaini was never known for his passing abilities but, was always remembered for his heading prowess. Lately though his passing abilities have made telling contributions for the team. If he can improve on his passing, then United may see an entirely different player.
Since the retirement of Roy Keane, the Reds of Manchester have been crying out loud for a commanding box to box midfielder to help the teams cause in the middle of the park. Fellaini’s sudden rise may make many believe that the team has found the right man to replace him. It may be too early to call him Keane’s replacement, having said that if Fellaini can continue with these kinds of performances, he can certainly make a name for himself in the hearts of United fans.
Image courtesy of Skysports
Stats courtesy of Skysports