It’s always a wonderful feeling when your team scores. But sometimes, when a certain player sticks one away, it just seems to mean that little bit more. As an Evertonian, when players like Duncan Ferguson or Tim Cahill netted important goals for the club, there was always a sense of something extra special in the air. Their passion was so apparent and the crowd fed off it, for it was so obvious just how much it meant scoring a goal for Everton.
Another player who belonged in this particular category was Marouane Fellaini. You could see when he celebrated goals, that Evertonian passion gripped him. He just loved scoring for the Toffees. Of course, his days of scoring goals for Everton are no more, as he completed a £27.5 million move to Manchester United on deadline day. At his new club, expect him to stir up similar feelings amongst the watching faithful. After five years service, he departs with the well wishes of every Everton supporter.
Now, with the dust settling in the wake of a chaotic deadline day, the general mood surrounding Fellaini’s deal seems to be rather negative. There is a consensus that perhaps the Belgian international is not up to the United standard, that he isn’t high profile enough and that his new employers have paid well over the odds to recruit him.
It is in some ways understandable, especially with the club being linked with superstars like Cesc Fabregas, Luka Modric and Mesut Ozil throughout the summer months. Not to mention, United could have secured Fellaini’s signature for £23 million if they had acted in swifter, more ruthless fashion. It seems at this juncture, opinions of the former Everton man have been clouded because of United’s curious summer transfer policy.
But looking forward, Fellaini is a player that can thrive at Old Trafford, and there is little doubt from this stand-point that the United supporters will come to love their new midfielder.
It would be difficult for them not to. Fellaini is certainly not one to veil his passion, he is a footballer who wears his heart on his sleeve. He will give everything to win for United and in a fashion that is far from understated. In the main, football supporters gravitate to that sort of personality. Everton supporters did, and United fans will too.
As for the notion that Fellaini is not a United-type player – a throwaway comment that has been used regularly during this transfer saga – don’t expect that to hold much clout. He was one of the standout players in the Premier League last season and is getting better and better as he becomes increasingly acclimatized to the demands of the English game.
He will also bring a host of qualities to David Moyes’s midfield that are currently in very short supply. His unorthodox somatotype gives him an incomparable presence in the centre of the park, a facet that was noticeably absent in United’s recent surrender at Anfield. His ability to dominate aerially and bully in the challenge will provide heightened assurance at United’s core, not to mention an excellent foil for the playmaking abilities of Michael Carrick.
Aside from his physical presence, he will give United a bit of needle in that central area too. Not one to shirk a tackle, Fellaini is also an aggressive and supremely combative character. Granted, he must learn to keep these attributes in check, having overstepped the mark on a few occasions at Everton. But they are tantamount qualities that every team needs, and ones that United don’t really have in abundance.
His technical ability has also been significantly undervalued. Most notably his passing ability, which has improved no end since his move from Standard Liege five years ago. Whilst it was initially wayward and rash, he now distributes the ball with purpose and intelligence.
A prime indicator of this is the role he was given in Everton’s early encounters under Roberto Martinez; tasked with sitting deep as a withdrawn playmaker, he was the teams most prominent and accurate passer in two of Everton’s opening three encounters. His ability to bring the ball down on his chest and shuffle out of tight areas is another majestic and wonderfully skillful patent he has developed down the years.
Critics of Fellaini in his time at Everton point to his inconsistency as a detrimental quality, and he can occasionally go missing in games against what you might consider to be lesser sides. But Old Trafford is the ideal stage for him to take his game up a notch. As a United player, expect the Belgian to be even more focused, motivated and determined than he was when donning royal blue.
At his best, when the power, aggression and technique are all channelled positively, Fellaini is an unstoppable force. He has always been a player who performs well in the big games for Everton, and with the extra pressure that comes with being at a massive club like United, expect him to turn in those sorts of unplayable performances on a much more regular basis. Stellar showings combined with his passion and will to win means that United supporters are going to love Fellaini.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball