He was the first marquee signing of the David Moyes era at Old Trafford and a midfielder whose physicality and intelligence were the reasons he was bought in 2013 for £27 million.
Marouane Fellaini is an unpopular figure by all accounts. During his early months at United, he was made a scapegoat – most notably from Andy Tate – as Moyes visions for Manchester United failed to materialise. Though he did not suffer the same doomed fate as his manager, Fellaini nonetheless felt the heat on his neck from his critics.
Rightly so. There are times when Fellaini is a man on a wire, doing everything he can to prevent him from looking down. Even going so far as to pose as a battering ram; aimlessly and thoughtlessly barging and clipping his opponents, causing chagrin for viewers and team mates.
It came to a head – literally – at the Etihad on Thursday evening which should outline everything that is wrong with the Belgian as an asset to United. In the absence of Paul Pogba, Fellaini was sent into battle with the express purpose of his height and his physicality causing problems for his bulky opponents in Fernandinho and Yaya Toure. He needed to be a challenge to them; yet was lax in possession, careless in tackling and made little threat in the final third.
To put it plainly, he does not suit the style United are trying to play; ultimately. Michael Carrick brings the calm, Pogba the vision, Ander Herrera the workrate. As a midfield trio to suit Jose Mourinho’s vision, there needs to be an enforcer, especially as Carrick’s age grows as an issue. But it is not THE issue. Jose Mourinho dispensed of the services of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger and put his faith in Fellaini, a gamble which failed.
Moving forward, Fellaini needs to be shown the door during the summer. United have laid the foundations for recovery that has been in waiting since Sir Alex Ferguson left. To step it up, they need a midfield general with class and, perhaps crucially, discipline. Fellaini simply does not fit that role, and after Thursdays frank stupidity, it is safe to say he does not belong at Old Trafford.