Jason Pettigrove on how the much-maligned Belgian has won over the Old Trafford faithful by sheer determination and grit
Football might well be the ‘beautiful game,’ but sometimes winning ugly is the way to go, and no one typifies the more rudimentary side of the modern game better than Marouane Fellaini.
That’s not to level criticism at the Belgian, far from it in fact. For too long now Fellaini has been derided by football followers as second-rate and, frankly, not good enough.
After all, it’s much easier to follow the sheep than to take a step back and understand what he does bring to the table; a particular set of skills that Jose Mourinho has lauded on more than one occasion in the recent past.
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In the most physical of domestic competitions, the Premier League, Fellaini stands head and shoulders above many of his peers – metaphorically and actually.
If you want a player that will go to war, he has to be the first name on the team sheet. An enforcer of sorts, not unlike the players that many teams of yesteryear built their squads around, the Belgian does, however, have more to his game than the old flailing elbow.
Multi-faceted, he’ll put his foot in and do the dirty work yes, but he’s equally at home in a supporting role for either defence or attack, and each role is carried out with the same diligence.
Defensive midfielder one week, second striker the next – 19 goals in 95 games with Manchester United is hardly the worst return – and maybe one of two central midfielders should the need arise…
Can anyone honestly suggest that the player never gives less than 100%? He may not be to everyone’s liking, clearly, but give me 11 Fellainis every day of the week.
Consistently bad-mouthed on the terraces and overlooked by managers not necessarily impressed by the skill set, most would have thrown in the towel by now, yet the 29-year-old has remained determined, focused and always ready to give his best.
Let’s be clear. To be comfortable within an elite team dynamic in a multitude of roles, especially when coming off of the bench to plug a gap or get a goal, takes immense character and self-belief, and that can’t be overlooked either.
With a January move to Besiktas or Valencia being mooted unless both player and club can shake hands on new contract terms, Red Devils fans should take the opportunity to thank Fellaini for his service.
Think about it… when was the last time that you can remember a poor performance from him?
It’s about time to stop making him the fall guy for all of United’s ills.