Marouane Fellaini has undergone one of the most impressive transitions in world football in the past year, going from one of the worst players in the team during the Moyes era to an undroppable star in Van Gaal’s resurgent United side. Many fans hoped Fellaini’s career as a United player would be finished by the summer’s end, but now supporters will scramble to have his name printed on the back of their shirts. Fellaini has proved his worth, to a squad challenging for a spot in the top four, when many would have simply been shocked to see him get into the team at all.
Yet, despite signing six world class players, including Angel Di Maria, Van Gaal continues to stick with a player who fits his mould and he is right to do so. His physical presence has proved vital time and time again, exemplified in the victory over Manchester City in which Fellaini dominated one of the best box-to-box midfielders around in Yaya Toure. He won nearly every ball that came into his vicinity and created multiple opportunities for himself and his United teammates. This was not the first time Fellaini had put in such an impressive shift. In previous weeks he has proved to be too much for the opposition’s defence to deal with, scoring 2 goals and creating chances in key wins against the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City.
Fellaini’s statistics from this campaign are truly remarkable when comparing them to his numbers from last season. In the 2013/14 Premier League season, Fellaini didn’t score a single goal and provided only one assist, while winning an average of 3.1 of his aerial duels per game according to WhoScored. This season, Fellaini has scored 5 goals and won an average 4.3 of his aerial duels per game. His output this season largely has to do with both deployment and confidence in himself, as well as from the Old Trafford faithful. He has transformed himself into arguably the greatest aerial threat in the Premier League and turned around his United career in a way that many thought to be impossible. As a United fan, before this great run of form I thought that Van Gaal was becoming too reliant on Fellaini’s aerial abilities as a way of scoring goals, but in the past few weeks it has clicked. The balance between long balls into Fellaini and typical United attacking has proved deadly. Fellaini always possesses the ability to score goals and create chances with his head; however our successes have come from finding a middle ground and not solely relying on Fellaini as the main tactic.
For the time being, Fellaini should remain in the starting eleven and may very well end up being one of the main reasons United finishes in the top four. At this rate, one questions the necessity for a new midfielder in the summer window with Fellaini continuing to put in impressive performances. It is somewhat shocking to United and football fans all around the world, but one must give credit to Fellaini for responding after such a terrible start to his career as a Red Devil.