Old Trafford

Next Game

Man Utd v Leicester

Saturday, 31 January 2015, 15:00

Barclays Prem

Last Game

Cambridge Utd 0 - 0 Man Utd

Friday, 23 January 2015, 19:55

The FA Cup Fourth Round

Fellaini fits in

Marouane Fellaini's first Man United start illustrated his importance, writes Sarah Winterburn.

Last Updated: 18/09/13 at 06:11

Marouane Fellaini: Proved vital in creating space for Wayne Rooney against Lever

Marouane Fellaini: Proved vital in creating space for Wayne Rooney against Lever

"I think Fellaini is too similar in a way to Michael Carrick, but I love Michael Carrick as a player, he makes things tick. It makes you think, 'where is Fellaini going to play?' If you spend £28million on someone you would expect them to be playing," said Teddy Sheringham this week.

Sheringham's point was that United should have signed Mesut Ozil instead of Fellaini but that is an attacking player talking. Yes, United could have used Ozil and his unquestionable creative talents. But Real Madrid are possibly the only team in Europe who could seriously claim to have no use for Ozil. And most people think even they have made a big mistake.

Ozil would have been a lovely addition to United's creative ranks - though Wayne Rooney's performance against Bayer Leverkusen (barring the missed open goal) in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night would give some pause for thought about the right choice for the No. 10 position if Ozil had been signed. But they undoubtedly needed an orthodox central midfielder more. They won the Premier League despite their central midfield last season, when Carrick looked exceptional largely because he was doing the work of two men.

Michael Carrick: Should be pleased to have powerful team-mate in central midfield

Carrick must have been astounded to be finally playing with a central midfielder who was not lightweight, overweight or ancient. His workload was almost immediately halved. Last season he averaged 77 passes per game in the Premier League while Tom Cleverley racked up less than 50. That is nowhere close to being an even distribution of work. Against Bayer Leverkusen, as himself and Fellaini controlled the game, they had both made 84 passes when the Belgian left the field after 80 minutes. Fellaini had touched the ball more, wrestled back possession more and created more chances (okay, it was 1-0, but that is still more) than Carrick.

Meanwhile, United's domination of central midfield allowed United's front four more freedom. Rooney was freed to wreak havoc without dropping deep to be a third central midfielder, Antonio Valencia shocked many by not only taking on the Leverkusen full-back but delivering the ball into dangerous areas and Robin van Persie did what the Dutchman does with awe-inspiring regularity, pulling off a remarkable finish that only he would even contemplate. The only disappointment for United fans was that Shinji Kagawa toiled on the left, presumably to the sound of Jurgen Klopp's sobbing.

Wayne Rooney: Will grab the headlines but Fellaini was influential

While Rooney will undoubtedly dominate the headlines after his two strikes saw him hit the 200-goal mark for the club, it is Fellaini's full debut that should really lift the spirits of United fans. After all, everybody knows that Rooney is capable of dominating average defences and most vaguely remember Valencia being effective on the counter-attack, but it has been an awful long time since they have seen United field a physically impressive, dynamic and yet disciplined central midfielder.

There are much sterner tests ahead - one awaits on Sunday at Manchester City - but the future certainly looks brighter with Fellaini alongside Carrick rather than Cleverley. Those United fans who were sniffy about the Belgian and his supposed lack of United class have had a glimpse of what he can offer and they should be prepared to nibble at a few of their words.

A version of this article first appeared on Football365>

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

T

he uber commercialisation of the 90s has led to the point where this overly familar, try hard, jolly hockey sticks type fronts up a major football match on a weekly basis. Unlike the great presenters of yesteryear, I doubt he would even recognise the scent of Brut.

mufc phil
Football On TV: Jake Humphrey

H

opefully Jose turns up to the game wearing a T-Shirt with Costa's face on, that's the classy thing to do in these situations right?

Petulant_Radish
Costa loses appeal against ban

C

onfirmed. Nick Miller is a douche bag. Lazy, incoherent rant is what this article should be titled. And for the editor to have the temerity to pass this as acceptable writing is shocking. Ah well, anything for clicks right? You got mine. Well done. Your mother must be proud.

poolshortsdown
Gerrard Constantly Searching For That Final Hurrah

Footer 365

David de Gea future key to Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has reiterated his desire to keep David de Gea at Old Trafford.

Juan Cuadrado backed to shine in Premier League by Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino says Chelsea-bound Juan Cuadrado has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League.

Les Hutchison's takeover of Motherwell has been ratified

Lanarkshire businessman Les Hutchison has completed his takeover of Scottish Premiership club Motherwell.

Mail Box

'Costa Is A Bad Man. Suarez Is Not'

That's quite some claim. And yes, unfortunately we are still talking about this. We also have mails on Ronaldinho, possible replacements for Yaya Toure and more...

Red Mist Better Than Calculated Costa?

Hmmm. We're not sure about this argument - one Mailbox says Luis Suarez is easier to forgive because he is a little loco. We also have mails on Studge and more...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company