At Everton, Marouane Fellaini was a massive headache for Manchester United whenever we played him. Now he’s at Man United, Fellaini is still a massive headache for us whenever we play him.
The Belgian midfielder went through a mini-renaissance last year when he went on a run of good games, starting with his first goal for the club away to West Brom but he’s since reverted to type in spectacularly awful fashion.
Fellaini’s performance against West Ham United on Sunday typified that fall from grace. In the first half, he gave the ball away 11 times and failed to make a single tackle, block or clearance. It was everything you didn’t want to see from a defensive midfielder in your team.
He was so bad in fact that United fans sarcastically jeered him off the pitch when he was substituted. United fans don’t do that lightly. We cheered Radamel Falcao off during his final game at Old Trafford for crying out loud but he at least applied himself and did everything he could to win us over. On the other hand, Fellaini just languishes about, swings his elbows and occasionally wins a header.
Fellaini's 1st half against West Ham:
Lost possession 11 times #MUFC
— United Update (@UnitedsUpdate) March 14, 2016
Fellaini is the antithesis of what a central midfielder should be at United and it’s impossible to justify him starting ahead of Morgan Schneiderlin yet it has happened so often. So, it was not at all surprising to see how much space West Ham were able to find behind Carrick and Fellaini because they are so stationary. We desperately lacked the energy of Schneiderlin and Herrera in that respect but van Gaal decided to switch it up.
The sad truth is that Fellaini’s elbows are better at football than his feet and we’re genuinely hindering our own ability by starting him. If we used Fellaini correctly in the last 20 minutes of a game where we really needed a change of tactic, then I’d have every confidence our opinion of him would be completely different but van Gaal starts him in midfield instead.
Am I scapegoating Fellaini? Probably. All United’s outfield players are not doing enough right now at all but Fellaini’s not good enough to ever be starting for us if we genuinely want to challenge for silverware.
I’ve got no doubt Fellaini will start against Liverpool on Thursday but it’s scandalous that van Gaal continues to do so. For a man who is so quick to drop Memphis Depay for making mistakes, he doesn’t half show double standards with Fellaini and even had the audacity to say he was one of the best players against West Ham this weekend – he wasn’t, he was awful.
United’s problems lie deeper than certain individuals starting but we’ve got enough issues without self-inflicting more on us and the sooner Fellaini is pushed out of the team, the more chance we have of pushing ahead and trying to salvage something from this season.