Marouane Fellaini leaves the Premier League with no title but he gave so much more


And so that’s it, after spending 10 and a half seasons in England’s Premier League the Belgian Marouane Fellaini has left to join Chinese club Shandong Lueng. But how will Fellaini’s legacy be remembered in England?

Fellaini was bought by Everton’s David Moyes way back in the summer of 2008 and he immediately became a regular fixture in the Everton side, helping the club to top 6 finishes and they reached the 2009 FA Cup final, eventually losing to Chelsea 2-1.

Fellaini became instantly recognisable with his permed out hair, which looked as if he had just had an electric shock, but he was giving his opponents that kind of treatment in midfield, let’s just say you knew he was in the middle of the park and he certainly had that physical side to his game- the Everton fans duly loved him. Still there seems to be a myth that he was always receiving red cards, which simply isn’t true and he was given his marching orders less than 4 times in his career in England.

Once David Moyes had joined Manchester United in his ill conceived move, spurred on by a retiring Sir Alex Ferguson one of Moyes’ first purchases was to bring Fellaini to Manchester. At first it seemed short sighted, perhaps the Belgian was only good enough on a level for Everton. But over 5 seasons later he actually proved his worth to the United side.

Countless times it was Fellaini’s goals that got Manchester United out of trouble, where they have mostly belonged since Ferguson departed the club back in 2013. In his first difficult season he didn’t even score a goal and injuries also plagued him. But in his second season that changed and he netted 7 times. Under different coaches a lot changed for him and the trophies finally started to come in. The FA Cup under Louis van Gaal and then the League Cup and perhaps his most important trophy to date the Europa League with Jose Mourinho followed suit.

Fellaini leaves England with no Premier League title of course, but at least he ended up winning 4 trophies with United. He’s also very much proved his worth as a player, scoring crucial goals, and the key reason United are still in the Champions League was because of his goal against Young Boys in the group stages, otherwise United could well have been out of the competition.

His quality and worth to both Everton and Manchester United has been of great significance and he survived so many different coaches throughout the years. Him leaving feels like a small slice of Premier League memory ending and he richly deserves his move away to China. Although at just 31 one does wonder if he still had a few more seasons in him at the very highest level. That may never be found out.


Which Manchester United players should be offloaded once the season is over

<> on February 24, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

By now, the board and Ed Woodward will have analysed which players will be part of the club’s long-term plans, and which individuals they feel that don’t have a future at all at Manchester United. And although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is only the interim coach at this moment of time, the hierarchy will surely be asking for his comments and vital opinions on who should be kept at the club at all costs.

On the other hand, some of the players who are used as a squad rotation will be given a few more chances to prove themselves before the current season is over. The Red Devils don’t have too much deadweight to carry like they used to a couple of years ago, however, there are some players that have been at the club for far too long or are simply not good enough for Premier League football.

Looking at the first team line-up as well as the squad depth as a whole, it can be easily stated that the club are in need of four to five new additions before they can mount a serious challenge in all competitions. And in order to achieve this, they will have intelligently sell a number of players during the summer transfer window, before they can go on to bringing anyone over to Old Trafford.

It’s time to look at the players that should be offloaded in the summer…

Antonio Valencia

Although a lot of the focus is on either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones as the main weakness within the backline, not much has been mentioned or stated about the right-back Antonio Valencia. Despite being a natural winger in his peak years in the Premier League, he has shown to be a player that can just about defend his area whilst his attacking and crossing ability has become non-existent over the last number of seasons.

With his contract coming to an end in the summer, it would be ideal for the club to let him go on a free transfer or give him a contract and then sell him off for a small amount of money. In the end, as long as he is far and far away from the club before the next footballing season, then shall Manchester United’s defence be able to move forward as a whole on both sides of the pitch. Without a doubt.

Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been in the Premier League for a really long time, and the only shame is that he spent most of his time in England as a right-winger rather than in his favourite position in the number ten role. The former Chelsea and Valencia player has never failed to come up with the assists and goals when it was much needed, though, he has been unable to produce the numbers on a regular basis.

As a whole, he simply does not have the pace or the physical ability to start as a winger, which dents United’s chances of producing successful counter-attacks. If the board and Ed Woodward are clever, they aggressively sell the attacking midfielder as he still has value and can become a superstar at a lower club, and it allows them to recover a fair amount they once spent on Juan Mata in 2014.

Marcos Rojo

It’s actually incredible to see that Marcos Rojo is still a Manchester United player, someone who is constantly on the sidelines with injury problems here and there whilst receiving a contract extension that he simply did not deserve. Believe it or not, the centre-back has made the same amount of appearances for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup and for Manchester United so far this season.

Unfortunately for the 28-year-old, he has failed to achieve the potential he once had when he joined the club and has time and time again, proved to be an ongoing liability in the back line whenever he starts. Given that he is out of his depth and is a player that would not be sorely missed once he leaves the club, United will then be able to bring in someone from the youth academy to develop.

Marouane Fellaini

Following the departure of Jose Mourinho and the short-term arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Marouane Fellaini has become one of the few players that does not fit the current coach’s style of play and has also been hit with a few unfortunate injury issues. Not only that, he has hardly been regarded as a player that represents Manchester United as a whole and what they proudly stand for.

For sure, he is not athletic, intelligent or proactive enough to be seen as a regular starter or even as an option from the bench, but he did come up with the vital goals for when the side needed him the most during the Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho era. Now, that the club are returning onto the right path, the attributes and services that Marouane Fellaini provides is no longer required at Old Trafford.

Matteo Darmian

Since completing his monumental move from Serie A to the Premier League in the summer of 2015, Matteo Darmian has shown his impressive versatility to play as a left-back, right-back and centre-back when required. On the other hand, he has failed to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League as well as the wingers that are filled with pace and trickery, which has led to him falling behind the likes of Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and now Diogo Dalot for the right-back position.

The Italian international has only completed five league appearances so far this season, seriously implying that he wasn’t in Jose Mourinho’s plans and he isn’t seen as a player to be utilised by Solskjaer himself. With Serie A clubs in Inter Milan, Juventus and Napoli reportedly being interested in the full-back, it would only make sense for the club and the player to part ways in the summer.

Marouane Fellaini deserves an appreciative send off by Manchester United fans

Marouane Fellaini, for one reason or another, is not universally popular among Manchester United. It’s fair to say that he conquers opinion. Some can see his quality and what he brings to the club, but others can only see a player that personifies the darker periods since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Unfortunately, life at Manchester United didn’t get off on the right step for Fellaini. Totally out of his control, but how his whole transfer was dealt with by Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, was a shambles from start to finish.

David Moyes, the newly appointed successor of Ferguson, searched long and hard for his midfield man, going through the possibilities of Toni Kroos, Arturo Vidal and many more, before deciding that Fellaini was the only realistic option.

After enquiring about his price, they knew, that within a certain time window, Fellaini had an active buyout clause £22 million before it expired on 31 July. Because the club stuttered and dithered all summer, they had to return right at the end of the transfer window with an improved offer of £27.5 million. The deal was done, but the farce summed up the next few years and, unluckily for Fellaini, he was at the heart of it.

There is no doubt that Fellaini has his qualities and he was an excellent servant to Everton when under the management of Moyes. Often played just behind the striker, Fellaini would create a nuisance in the box and disrupt the opposition’s defence, often scoring crucial goals at pivotal moments.

However, for some reason unknown to all, Moyes, and his replacement Louis van Gaal, decided to use him further back in midfield. The Belgium international simply couldn’t have the same effect as he had shown in the Premier League beforehand, and was also not technically good enough to play in a two-man pivot, constructing attacks and driving the team forward. It wasn’t his game.

For the following few years, Fellaini was seen as an outcast. He didn’t necessarily fit into the football that LvG was looking for: a possession-dominated philosophy with players that have expert technicalities to them. Fellaini certainly wasn’t one of those.

The situation reached its all-time lowest point under José Mourinho, when the Belgian was brought on as a substitute in December 2016 and was booed by the Old Trafford crowd. Seldom do the home fans whistle and boo their own players – unless you are Real Madrid – but such was the breakdown in the relationship that it had just become normal.

One thing remained, however. How was it that for a player who had been subjected to boos and whistles survived under three managers in his four-and-a-half stint at Manchester United? Perhaps there was not a bad player there after all.

At his lowest point as a Red Devil, Fellaini actually begun to turn his career around and lay the foundation blocks to recovering his reputation among was should have already been his supporters. The Belgian’s performances started to pick up towards the back end of the 2016/17 season, but his major breakthrough came in the following campaign.

It was clear from the beginning of his reign that Mourinho preferred a midfielder of Fellaini’s stature to that of Juan Mata. The Portuguese values loyalty and a robustness that not all players have, but Fellaini was certainly one to move into the inner circle under Mourinho.

With the same late and crucial goals, Fellaini found his role within the team: the super sub. While Mourinho arguably played him from the beginning of matches too often, the Belgian had a wonderful knack of appearing at the right time at the end of matches, slotting it home to the eruption of the Manchester United fans.

Not many were kidding themselves thinking Fellaini could turn into a player that had a long-term future at the club, but he was one to applaud in the moment when he took his chances. The Belgian is, quite clearly, a limited player in some aspects, but in others, he is one of the world’s best.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjær taking the immediate reigns, it is unlikely that Fellaini is going to feature handsomely between now and the end of the season. The Norwegian prefers a pressing style of play, with technically gifted players on the ball, making things happen. Fellaini, for all that he is good for, just doesn’t fit into that brand of football.

At the end of the season, Man United are most likely going to try and move Fellaini on, after five years at the club. He’s had his ups and he’s certainly had his downs, but fans should look back on his time at the club and remember that he was a player who gave his all when asked upon. After all, he did survive under three Manchester United managers.

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Marouane Fellaini saves the day for José Mourinho once again

Like it or not, Marouane Fellaini has done more good than harm at Manchester United since joining the club under David Moyes. For all of his critics, he has lasted under three different managers with three completely different playing styles – they value him in ways that it is hard to comprehend for the everyday fan.

Fellaini isn’t a pretty player on the ball and he’s not one to make you sit on the edge of your seat, waiting in anticipation over what is going to happen next. He is, however, useful. Useful in the sense that he disrupts the opposition’s defensive organisation and they become fixated on the physicality that the Belgian brings. This, in turn, allows Fellaini’s teammates to sneak into gaps not previously there, as well as give United another option when looking to approach the opponents’ box.

Having Fellaini run your midfield is not what he should be used for. Compare him to someone like Paul Pogba and the difference is stark, but there are seldom football players who can pose such an immediate threat when he comes onto the pitch and takes up his place between the opposition’s centre back and, usually, left back.

When Mourinho left Pogba out last Tuesday evening against Young Boys, there was a concern from fans over the dynamism of Man United’s play. They were right. Far too many times were the Red Devils stagnant in their approach, with Fellaini too deep to cause havoc. When the Belgium international is on the ball, 40 yards away from the goal, he is not a threat at all and becomes quickly nullified.

The eventual winning goal against the Swiss-based club, that came through the Belgian, was scored because he was allowed to go up front and assume his more accustomed role. Pogba came onto the pitch and started working the ball into more advantageous areas, with Fellaini causing menace in the Young Boys box.

Fellaini received the ball with his back to goal with just minutes to spare, controlled it as he usually does, quickly pivoted and struck the ball with his right foot. It wasn’t the cleanest of shots and there was a case of handball thrown in, but it was what was needed as it found the bottom left-hand corner. Fellaini rose to the occasion once again under Mourinho and the Portuguese manager’s celebration of launching a crate of water bottles suggests how important that goal was for him. A sigh of relief.

A large proportion of Manchester United fans were disappointed when the club bent over backwards to make sure Fellaini signed a contract renewal in June. Such were the excruciatingly long negotiations, Fellaini actually became a free agent before signing with Man United. The midfielder-cum-forward was put onto a new and improved contract to the distaste of many.

However, Fellaini has triumphed under Mourinho and come up with the goods on more than one occasion. The Belgian has a knack of understanding the box better than some forwards and can manipulate defenders into a false sense of security. It’s not hard tracking Fellaini given his size, but his physicality and aerial prowess provide such a nuisance to any defender going up against him.

The former Everton man might only have two goals and two assists this season in 15 appearances throughout all competitions, but Fellaini’s service is measured by more than just goals and assists. What he brings to the team is another dimension that Manchester United desperately need. The Red Devils look lost on the pitch at times and bringing on a player with Fellaini’s attributes usually proves worthwhile with the opposition panicking and pressing the self destruct button.

Fellaini’s presence isn’t always needed and against Young Boys from the start, it certainly wasn’t. The perfect time to bring on the Belgian on is with 20 minutes to go when the Red Devils are in search of a goal to ascertain a result. With Fellaini’s limited ball-playing ability, having him start games is usually non-productive, as he’s trapped on the halfway line without the ability to make runs into the box and attack the ball.

What, perhaps, has been most impressive of all about Fellaini is his fight against adversity. It has been made clear on a number of occasions that he is not the most-liked in the group and, up until about one-year ago, was on the receiving end of terrible abuse from his own fans. And yet, even with that, he has stuck to what he knows best and remained at the club.

Louis van Gaal, Moyes and Mourinho all saw value in him and now the Manchester United fans are starting to come around to that viewpoint in certain situations. Fellaini is a warrior and has done nothing but give his all for the Red Devils, which is why supporters now need to give them their full backing – he has done more than enough to deserve it.

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Is Jose Mourinho on a losing battle with Manchester United’s stars?

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Manchester United somehow and finally qualified for the knock out stages of the Champions League as a last minute goal from Marouane Fellaini was enough to see out Young Boys a team that at Old Trafford United were expected to score 3 or more goals against and ease into a victory.

Instead and yet again United underwhelmed and yet a victory is a victory and Mourinho punched the air with delight. He didn’t mind a 1-0 win, but there has to be serious doubts over this United team. One does get the feeling that Mourinho is trying to mould this side into the great Inter Milan team that he coached for 3 seasons. A dogs of war side that won 3 Serie A titles in a row and a famous Champions League title, their first for 45 years. The problem is that there was a major difference between that team and this United one, which was the players believed in Mourinho’s project and had thick skin.

Thick skin has been quite the subject this week too as Luke Shaw who Mourinho wants to be his lieutenant in the side just like Javier Zanetti was all those years ago at Inter said in a recent interview that you need thick skin to be in this side. He is absolutely right because Mourinho unlike most coaches will publicly criticise you if you don’t perform- Shaw included. His methods seem alien in a footballing world where the megastar player has been pampered too. Are Mourinho’s methods right? One could believe there is no definite answer, except they are his way of approaching things and he isn’t going to change now after all of the trophies he has won.

Romelu Lukakau the striker who has faded this season has stuck up for Mourinho lately, suggesting that players need to man up, and Mourinho himself has said that if some players are nervous they should just watch United’s games on the TV.

But Mourinho isn’t blameless in United’s start to the season, which forgetting the odd very good result, not losing to Chelsea away from home and victory over Juventus in Turin and has not been a good start to the new football campaign. After all he was the one that bought Paul Pogba, a player he is clearly at odds with and can’t seem to work with him. The other is Alexis Sanchez, an outrageously talented footballer who now plays like a journeyman under Mourinho he plays one week and not the next tactics.

Manchester United have not been the club we know since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and it does feel that whatever Mourinho will try with this club just won’t stick. Of course he has won the Europa League and League Cup with them, so is by far the most successful coach at the club since Ferguson left. But that is going on for 2 seasons ago now.

United have zero chance to win the Premier League this season and the big one for them now is the Champions League. It is where the teams concentration and priority will be focused on. After all if they can beat the tournament favourites Juventus away, then why not? For now United are not a club worth watching, which is the saddest aspect of Mourinho’s time here.

How many Manchester United players have actually improved under Jose Mourinho?

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho’s third-season crisis has kicked into gear extra early in 2018-19, with Manchester United currently sitting 10th in the Premier League table after losing three of their first seven games of the new campaign.

The club’s below-par start to the season, which has included defeats against Brighton, Tottenham and West Ham, as well as a League Cup exit on penalties to Derby, has led to intense speculation about Mourinho’s future at Old Trafford.

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Belgium the most impressive team this week

belgiumWhen thinking about everything that has taken place during the Russian World Cup, one simply has to step back and give a round of applause to Belgium. Having been fancied ahead of the tournament kickoff, they secured their qualification from the group stages after just two games, before beating England – who had also qualified – to get into the knockout stages as group winners. While that all sounds great, things could have been more comfortable as that result meant that they entered the knockouts in the half bracket which included a host of former world champions such as Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and France. Somehow, Roberto Martinez’s side have brushed off the pressure and breezed through to the semi-final, matching their best-ever finish at a World Cup.

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Has Marouane Fellaini won over the doubters?

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When all’s said and done, a 2nd place finish in the 2017/18 Premier League season was the best Manchester United were going to get.

That may disappoint some, but for a team that are still trying to find their identity under Jose Mourinho, it’s progress.

Something Marouane Fellaini has shown year after year at the Red Devils.

Many decry the Belgian as one dimensional, but Mourinho has always backed Fellaini to the hilt. Indeed, the Portuguese has even gone as far as saying on more than one occasion that the team is much weaker without the midfielder in it.

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