Marouane Fellaini has looked like a new player for Manchester United this season under Louis Van Gaal. His first goal in a United shirt in pre-season against Valencia set the tone for things to come and, when given his chance, he has embraced it.
After coming on as a half-time substitute away at West Brom, Fellaini changed the game and scored his first competitive goal for the Reds. From then on, he hasn’t looked back. A regular starter under Van Gaal, the Belgian has put in some stellar performances in the midfield.
At a time when United were having a n injury crisis, Fellaini really stepped up and came to the fore. His performances allowed Van Gaal to deploy Michael Carrick in defence and Fellaini started to dictate games. He managed to stifle the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic when Chelsea visited Old Trafford and bagged himself a trademark goal against Hull. This season, he has finally started to seem like he belongs.
But is he good enough to be a United player in the long run? Former United assistant coach Rene Meulensteen was quoted as saying he did not think so, claiming Fellaini did not move the ball quick enough for a United player. It is fair to say he has got a point. Van Gaal is renowned for playing free-flowing, attacking football but does Fellaini fit into that system?
There have been times when the Belgian has slowed down United’s own play and has prevented the team from moving forward at pace. When Ander Herrera has played there seems to be a constant link between the defence, the midfield and the forward men that Fellaini doesn’t offer. Once United have all their players back from injury, does Fellaini really have a place in the squad? With Daley Blind coming into the midfield and Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling returning to the defence, it doesn’t seem like he does.
A team can never have too many good footballers and there is no doubt Fellaini is one of them. However, with Kevin Strootman seemingly inevitably on his way to United at some point in the next year, Fellaini still faces an uncertain future. Acquiring Fellaini cost the club over £27m and the club may be happy receiving even half of that. At 27, Fellaini should be at the peak of his career and there would surely be suitors given his performances so far this season.
The Belgian has often been made a scapegoat for former manager David Moyes’ failings at Old Trafford. A lot of people felt that Manchester united was just too big a step up for Moyes so could the same be said about Fellaini? He has shown that United fans didn’t see the best of him last season and maybe they still haven’t, but it might be best of for both parties to see if he can prove himself elsewhere.