Fellaini: Mourinho’s secret weapon?

Written by Nkiko Salvation

Over the past three years, Manchester United managers have tried to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams with no avail. We have seen Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes stock up their teams with strong attacking presences and still lose deciding games, concede easily preventable goals and play extremely unattractive brands of football. Some fans state the cause is a simple “lack of quality attackers” like Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Ole Gunnar Solkjaer, Ryan Giggs, Andy Cole and so on. However, Van Gaal’s and Moyes’ red armies were bulked with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani, Di Maria, Anthony Martial, Falcao, Chicharito, Depay, Van Persie, Adnan Januzaj. Clearly clinical, pacey and creative attackers although still no replication of United’s past success. There was clearly missing jigsaw pieces. In addition to his great attackers, Ferguson always bulked his midfield with basic box-to-box midfielders who were willing to run the field, make breathtaking tackles, keep their passes simple, drop to allow way for more creatively-charged midfielders. Combining an extremely outgoing midfielder with a more mellow but defensive one in his 4-4-2 formation was Fergie’s minute lead to success. Examples of such pairings are Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes, Paul Ince and Bryan Robson.

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credit Pauls Imaging Photography

Welcoming his competitive nature, the Red Devils have gifted their new manager four wins in four competitive fixtures. Although this seems too soon to say, I believe Jose Mourinho has found the missing piece and kick-started the Mancunian team to their previous forms. He has attained amazing attacking strengths/depth in Pogba, Zlatan and Mkhitarian alongside raw defensive hustle in Eric Bailly. However, these amazing signings haven’t been his greatest achievements since coming to United. Jose restored confidence into the Belgian giant, Fellaini. On arrival in 2013, Marouane Fellaini mentioned to his MUTV interviewer that he wanted to emulate the playing style of the famous Roy Keane and has not been given the chance to act as such until this season. During Van Gaal’s era, Marouane was only viewed as a ball winning midfielder and a crossing target practice dummy in the box. Hence, reducing his efficiency as a player on the field and his local fan support as he was the pinnacle of LVG’s failure as a United Manager. Fortunately, Fellaini has been tasked with the classic United basic Box-to-Box role. Usually, this role is given to Michael Carrick but the 35 year old has lost his stamina and can no longer endanger his health in tackles and constant running. Hence, giving way to Marouane as an experiment which he has fulfilled ideally in this role. Over the past games, Marouane has looked fit for this role. He keeps moving, marking and tackling. He keeps most of his passes simple providing him with a 92% passing completion this season with 72% of them being forward passes. This simplistic role has given Mourinho’s United the freedom to experiment with their creativity levels as Marouane is always there for cover and recovery, especially being paired with Paul Pogba (a more adventurous personality). So far, It seems Fellaini is getting his United dream under Mourinho.

Will Fellaini be a regular under Mourinho? Let us know in the comments below!

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