Time for Fellaini to find his feet at United.
It’s hard to think of a more underwhelming major signing in recent times. The previous big splash of Glazer cash to have failed to hit the heights expected was Dimitar Berbatov; yet even he could always rely on a vocal band of admirers to fight his corner. Fellaini has had no such luck. Whereas the capture of the Bulgarian mercurial enigma (cliché klaxon ago go) represented a thrilling, logic defying pursuit of yet more attacking adventure, our Belgian acquisition is by contrast a depressingly sensible acceptance of functionality over flair.
As statements of intent go it played into the hands of the doom-mongers. The signing of Berbatov was classic swaggering United putting our rivals in their place by stealing their prize without any real need to do so. Fellaini’s arrival could barely be more different. We chased crafty continental schemers from Europe’s top table and ended up with the most domestic of acquisitions. A big fish from a small pond. £27m signings should have fans salivating with anticipation yet this one seemed only to further sour the simmering rage at our shameful summer. An extra verse to our songs of discontent. The very fee itself acting as an advertisement of Woowar’s incompetence. We had paid more for less and the proles were seething. The United way has been to make us dream of the possibilities, but the arrival of the big man was more likely to make us dread a shift to a more ‘agricultural’ style of play. Anxiety for the post-Fergie future had long since usurped the championship feel good factor and Fellaini seemed to confirm our fears that the boom years were over.
Luck has played a massive part. Fellaini could be forgiven for feeling the Gods have been against him. To arrive on the back of such a dismally disappointing summer killed any chance of a honeymoon period before he was able to pull on the shirt. Even that looks ridiculous on him; Nike’s latest disposable money spinner featuring a ‘sleek suave ‘ collar that only serves to make his gangly awkward frame loom like a Sesame Street character dressed up by a child. Worse still in the eyes of the ‘#againstmodernfootball’ cool kids his arrival has brought novelty wigs to Old Trafford. Only had he worn a half and half scarf at his unveiling could the scorn directed his way been more scathing.
All that would be irrelevant had he hit the ground running on the field but he blatantly hasn’t. A promising debut off the bench against Leverkusen has been followed by anaemic displays where he has looked at times a passenger. Alongside an under-performing Michael Carrick he has looked clumsy and cumbersome. Peripheral lethargy has long been the preserve of our rotund samba magician so it has been an unwelcome surprise to see our big arrival adopt the same approach. Impressively we seem to have contrived to sign a central midfielder who appears out of position in central midfield. For all Moyes and co claim him to be a natural deep-lying destroyer he has only looked at home when pressed into his plan B target man role as seen in the dying embers versus Arsenal. Even his manager seems to have had second thoughts, continuing the Fergie tradition of wingers and defenders in the engine room whilst Fellaini watched on from the bench.
Is it so surprising though? Making your mark at a new club is tough as it is. Throw in a departing legendary manager, retiring legendary player (in your position), a cavernous hole where a central midfield could once be found and the fact all this is happening at arguably the most scrutinised club in world football and you start to feel for the bloke. The pursuit of so many others underlined the fact that Fellaini was never meant to be brought in alone. In finding himself the sole addition it was inevitable that he would become a lightning rod for the criticism that should really be directed at those higher up at the club. The spectacle of a minority of fans jeering his substitution was a betrayal of what sets United apart from our uncouth rivals.
So maybe he deserves some patience and understanding? Maybe we should finally accept that their really only ever was one Keano and move on? Fat chance. The only way Fellaini will prove the doubters wrong is to, well, prove the doubters wrong. This requires minutes on the pitch where the temptation can’t be present to haul him off/leave him out whilst he finds his (comedically oversized) feet.
A tackle here, a crucial header here, maybe even a goal or two and the fickle fan base will be sharing adoring photoshops and the words ‘cult figure’ will begin accompanying his name in print. We have seen Fellaini thrive in a much smaller environment yet appear to struggle with the transition to a grander stage. The parallels with his manager are clear and as we pledged to give Moyes the benefit of patience so should we with Fellaini. It might turn out in the long term that he is more Ralph Milne than Roy Keane, but to write him off after just a few months would be grossly unfair.
Maybe finally his luck has changed. In a position with paper thin options anyway, significant injuries to Carrick and Jones mean quite simply he has to be picked and persevered with. Courageous Captain Wazza only picks himself as a striker these days. Games will come too often for our ageless player coach to be allowed to surrender possession twice a week so it is a choice of Fellaini or Fatso for TClevz to knock it sideways to. A trademark header or cultured shot that ripples into the back of the net could easily change his fortunes and, beginning with the trip to White Hart Lane, Fellaini will be hoping to help United produce a victory against Spurs, 6/4 on with the best premier leagues betting offer at 888sport, could well and truly turn his fortunes around.
So it’s a no brainer. Let’s be patient and give Screech the chance to show us his powers. You might just be surprised.
It wouldn’t hurt him to get a haircut though.