As I write this, Manchester United are favourites to sign Shinji Kagawa for a reported £7 million to fill that attacking midfielder position all the fans have been craving. Is he Ferguson’s way of saying that Manchester City outmuscled United once more for a player (Eden Hazard)?
Regardless of whether Manchester United sign Hazard, Kagawa, both or neither, this player could be more important for the team should United ever consider signing him.
People have been talking for a while now that Manchester United lack two main players in their midfield: a box to box midfielder and a midfield powerhouse/destroyer.
For me, Marouane Fellaini is a bit of both. At 6’4″, he is clearly classified as “strong” player and his determination whether it is to push his team forward or track back and do his defensive duties is quite admirable. But for me, the reason why I think Manchester United should consider him for the coming season is to rival Yaya Touré.
In the 1-0 loss at the Etihad, I remember vividly Phil Jones going on one of his galloping runs forward only for Yaya Touré to catch up with him, give him what seemingly was a small shoulder barge, get the ball off him and leave him sprawled out on the ground. We all know that Phil Jones is by no means a weakling but the strength and ease Yaya Touré demonstrated in flooring Jones by not committing a foul is something which United lack in their squad and Marouane Fellaini someone who is capable of doing that.
Fellaini was bought by Everton primarily as a defensive minded midfielder, but his ability to push forward and become a nuisance up front has become more and more apparent as time has gone on. Manchester United’s terrible 4-4 result at home to Everton this season is the perfect example of that. Fellaini started in the center of midfield next to Gibson and Phil Neville. As the minutes passed, he started creeping more and more forward and started to make his presence felt to the Manchester United defence. He showed up at the right time to exquisitely volley in Tony Hibbert’s cross to make it 3-2 and claimed an assist full of determination and strength to pass to Pienaar who made it 4-4.
Fellaini would allow Manchester United to also start off in a 4-2-3-1 next to Carrick for example (something which the fans have been demanding for a while), allowing the newly signed attacking midfielder to play in front of them with the wingers and the striker but also to give confidence to the defence who know they would have this huge physical presence in front of them. If things do not go to plan, let Fellaini push forward. Once he is inside the box, he is near unmanageable. However, for this to happen, another midfielder needs to be signed. Someone who is primarily there to pick up the ball from the defence and move it forward permitting Fellaini to move forward without leaving any gaps in midfield. A fit Fletcher would be perfect but I fear that Darren will never play football in higher-tier ever again.
Another advantage Fellaini brings in midfield: his height. Fellaini is a huge threat in the air capable of scoring goals with that great afro of his but, should he push forward, also capable of flicking on goal kicks and long balls from the back or holding up the ball in the same way a target man is expected to. Aim for his hair and he will most certainly get something on it.
The only problem with acquiring Fellaini is that he will not come cheap. He still has 4 years left on his contract and has become such an important part of Moyes’ plans that he will not want to let him go. Will Sir Alex Ferguson ever get a new midfielder able to boss the midfield? Only time will tell…
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