From scoring the equalizer against West Brom to negate Chelsea’s most potent weapon Cesc Fabregas in just six days, Marouane Fellaini is back from wilderness to repay the faith that Louis Van Gaal has shown in the Belgian.
Playing for Everton and Manchester United is entirely different. When you step out at Old Trafford wearing the iconic Red Devils jersey, your mistakes are bound to gather attention. Being the seventh most expensive signing (£27.5m) also doesn’t help. Marouane Fellaini has learnt it the hard way that such are the myriads of modern day football that you need to justify your price tag in just a handful of games. He has been unlucky too; niggling injuries and constant criticism didn’t help either.
After a disastrous last season under David Moyes, Fellaini’s career at United was as good as finished. New manager Louis Van Gaal reckoned he had no future and Italian side Napoli were interested to provide him respite by offering a season long loan deal. A meeting with the player’s agent in Belgium by the Napoli officials meant he was moving to the shores of Naples. However a mystery injury and Van Gaal’s change of heart saw him stay. Only just.
Van Gaal, right throughout his illustrious managerial career has never been afraid to use the depth of his squad to perfection. In the World Cup in Brazil, he used almost the entire Dutch squad to reach the semi finals. However, his start as United manager has been far from expected. So when things weren’t exactly going to plan at the Hawthorns last Monday; United were trailing by a solitary goal, the Dutch legend brought on Fellaini. The Belgian shrugged off Joleon Lescott with his brute strength minutes after gracing the field and thumped a volley past a hapless Ben Foster.
On Sunday too when the world was building up to United’s clash against Chelsea as a classic master v apprentice blockbuster, and while Robin Van Persie and Didier Drogba grabbed headlines, a deeper insight, though, reveals Fellaini was the home side’s silent hero.
The way the 26 year old shackled Cesc Fabregas for the entire 90 minutes deserves praise. Whether it was closing down Fabregas or runs higher up the pitch, making himself available for crosses showed flashes of the player he was at Goodison Park under David Moyes. Fabregas completed the least number of passes and touched the ball the least number of times in a Premier League match this season.
Fabregas completed 3 passes in the first 20 minutes and just 11 in the whole first half. That in itself shows Fellaini’s work ethic. He covered over 12kms, more than any Manchester United player in the game. The Belgian also did a great job is hassling Nemanja Matic not allowing the Serbian to build from the back. It might be too early to say that Fellaini has reinvented himself, but as it seems, he has made a case for himself ahead of the Manchester Derby. The performance against Chelsea might well keep Ander Herrera on the bench for quite some time.
*Stats Courtesy: Squawaka.com