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UNITEDRANT

Fellaini’s return represents everything wrong in the awful Van Gaal era

March 15, 2016 Tags: , Opinion 20 comments
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Match rhythm. It is the esoteric concept that Louis van Gaal insists a player must meet if he is to perform for Manchester United. Nobody is immune from this rule – players must have a few kilometres on the legs before they can be deployed for close to 90 minutes in the first team. Except, of course, for Marouane Fellaini at Anfield.

The Belgian was bizarrely rushed back into the first team after a month on the sidelines. Not only that, but Van Gaal’s goto guy played the full 90 minutes in United’s defeat to Liverpool. In a performance so abjectly poor at team level, Fellaini still managed to stand out as the worst player on the pitch. The Belgian’s game was summed up by an idiotic elbow on Emre Can, which should have led to a suspension for the Europe League return leg this Thursday had the match referee not omitted the incident from his report.

Suspension would have come as a relief to United’s supporters – the former Everton man represents everything that went wrong with both the David Moyes and Van Gaal eras. He is an emblem of the type of football supporters hate – aimless long balls and excruciatingly slow play.

The reality is that despite claims of his prowess in the air Fellaini ranks just 41st in the Premier League for aerial contests won per game. In fact, Fellaini wins less than 50 per cent of his contests – 2.6 from 5.3 per game. For a skill at which Fellaini is supposedly élite that’s not a a world-class return. Perhaps the Belgian’s only truly world-class qualities are his chest control and pointy elbows.

In fact United’s record with and without Fellaini in Premier League and European Competition this season is also a damning indictment. Van Gaal’s team is better when Fellaini misses out.

With Fellaini: 6 wins, 7 draws, 9 losses, 27% win ratio, 1.13 points per game.

Without Fellaini: 13 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses, 68% win ratio, 2.21 points per game.

In a large enough sample size there is correlation in the data – Van Gaal’s team is better when the midfielder does not play. In a defensive midfield role Fellaini is not mobile enough to partner any player in the squad, especially when used alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger or Michael Carrick. Fellaini does not offer enough of a goal threat to partner Morgan Schneiderlin, and he is not good enough defensively if he’s paired with Ander Herrera. Whatever way the combination is cut, Fellaini does not work for United – both subjectively and in the data.

"In fact United’s record with and without Fellaini in Premier League and European Competition this season is also a damning indictment. Van Gaal’s team is better when Fellaini misses out."

The midfielder cannot be trusted to remain disciplined either. Fellaini has provided a long list of questionable stomps, elbows and other undisciplined acts that have resulted in cards and suspensions. The player started the campaign on the sidelines after what was described as a “stupid” red card on the final day of last season in United’s draw with Hull City. It resulted in a three match ban.

Van Gaal has used Fellaini as an attacking midfielder t00, but in a set-up already lacking pace, the Belgian kills off any chance of operating a speedy forward line when he is thrown into the fray. It is true that at times Fellaini has been handy when Van Gaal’s side is chasing goals, but it is questionable whether ‘plan B’ should become ‘plan A’ – selecting the player ahead of more talented options such as Juan Mata and Herrera. After all, no opposition defence is troubled by the lack of pace offered by Fellaini and Wayne Rooney.

Yet, it is also ridiculous that despite all the player’s flaws Fellaini stands as one of Van Gaal’s favourites – and the Dutchman does have his preferred members of the squad. In a week where Van Gaal has come under fire from fans and the press, it was no surprise that Fellaini offered up the strongest defence of his manager.

“We didn’t press well in the first half,” said the Belgian. “The second half was much better and we had more possession of the ball. But in the first half we didn’t show enough respect to the game plan of the manager. That’s why we conceded a lot of chances. The plan before the game was to press from the start. We didn’t do it well.”

That the Belgian came to his manager’s aid is no great surprise: when Van Gaal is given his marching orders, as early as this summer, it will shock many if Fellaini is not among the first to join him.

Indeed, Fellaini’s selection against Liverpool may come to be seen as a hallmark of the Van Gaal era. It sums up a confusing and infuriating time at the club – one that should end sooner and not later. Few fans will shed a tear when Van Gaal leaves; fewer still when Fellaini is finally sold on.

20 comments

Dave Hurley - March 15, 2016 Reply

No need for discussion … He doesn’t suit get shot. Have said it since he was bought.

Ian Hendry Orr - March 15, 2016 Reply

The sooner this sorry episode is over the better it shall be for everyone !!!

Chidubem - March 15, 2016 Reply

The worst player is depay and God will punish van gaal for that. And u know depay is a bzastard. He is fatherless shame to him, always thinking he is the big shot. Lets protest

Ed - March 15, 2016 Reply

I’d settle for a P45. Wishing the wrath of the almighty seems a little OTT TBF!

devilinthisguy - March 27, 2016 Reply

Damn. He is fatherless but damn….low blow?

Dazza2501 - March 15, 2016 Reply

I think LVGs persistence with Fellaini shows how off course united and the philosophy are. When Schneiderlein & Herrera have played together there appears a partnership that works and two players who complement each other. LVGs answer is to then pick Fellaini instead. The fact that his claim that his regime is working is even more deluded, any success has been forced by desperate circumstances, ranging from the initial gamble on Martial, to the success of academy players spearheaded by Rashford. Most of LVGs actual plans have not worked , the tactics , some wrong players released, the obsession with Rooney, personnel played out of position. LVG believes his own propoganda, in his improvement of players, hence Fellainis selection, despite literally everyone else wanting him left out. It says it all when you do the stadium tour and the guides joke when you enter the dressing room that to have to be patient if you want your picture next to DeGea or Martials shirts, but if you don’t want to be disturbed, sit next to Fellainis

Groovy Beaker - March 16, 2016 Reply

I’ve been saying this since he got to mufc. Wrt this season, I’ve decided to place my support on hold.lvgoutnow!

Hudson - March 16, 2016 Reply

LVG era the faster it over this season the sooner the better. Respect as a successful manager in the past. Not suitable for MU. Possessions is not suitable. So many sponsorship LVG hurts the reputation of MU. Only respect is bringing youngsters the rest is absolutely painful to watch. I cannot wait the season to be over. We will see Liverpool match .Manchester city and West ham. We only pray hope for the best not in the past we go in we fear now with the tail at our back. We saw in Liverpool game.. please please the MU board please help the MU supporters like us.

chris - March 16, 2016 Reply

too harsh. he was rocking the game last season till end and what did LVG do? he dropped him or played him out of position for almost entirety of this season. he is not enjoying his time out there, that much is true and he is having a torrid time, that too is true. yet in all honesty why bear the bulk of the blame game on him when Carrick have been consistently caught out leading directly to goals? from the onset he was never gonna be the cultured ball playing midfielder. he have his strengths and his games in an exciting Belgium national setup shows how he can be part of a exciting setup. he was dropped till recently as Liverpool is ‘small’ and conceded many goals via setplays and hammers are big especially with Carroll leading upfront so LVG probably is afraid we were out muscled in midfield or lacking aerial cover.

Hudson - March 16, 2016 Reply

LVG era the faster it over this season the sooner the better. Respect as a successful manager in the past. Not suitable for MU. Possessions is not
suitable. So many sponsorship LVG hurts the reputation of MU. Only respect is bringing youngsters the rest is absolutely painful to watch. I cannot wait the season to be over. We will see Liverpool match .Manchester city and West ham. We only pray hope for the best not in the past we go in we fear now with the tail at our back. We saw in Liverpool game.. please please the MU board please help the MU supporters like us.

chris - March 16, 2016 Reply

all the statistics given is misleading. this season as opposed to last he was hardly given to playing in a proper position. either playing upfront which is difficult given almost always back to goals and or deep in anchor position whereby he is pegged back seriously. please also note he was often thrown in when we chasing games which we failed creating yet more damning statistic.

green Mile - March 16, 2016 Reply

Have you ever considered that Fellaini only seems to appear in the team when Man utd either have a lot of injuries, or are in need of rotation. So “games with fellaini” might also be a very good problem for “Games when Man utd have serious injury problems”.

they tried to sell him in the summer, and they tried to sell him in the winter transfer window, but only permanently. United have had horrific injury problems this season, and currently have 17 players out injured. So when people are banging on about how this is the worst man utd team ever, they firstly don’t remember 2013-14, or before 1990, and secondly they don’t ever seem to take into account that this man utd team has had far worse injury problems than any other man Utd team ever.

Which is obviously going to get in the way of the team developing any understanding, coherence, or doing what most clubs have done from van gaal, and that is play like barcelona and bayern.

Pete Naphasorn Webb - March 16, 2016 Reply

Never a utd player in a million years..

jack moore - March 16, 2016 Reply

Well, dare I say this? There are positives to be had with him. I admit they are few and don`t outweigh the negatives, but there are a few nonetheless. The article claims Fellaini couldn`t partner Carrick? the same Carrick who craps himself When put under a bit of pressure.The one who gifted the scousers a goal on a plate with his fairy clearance? Yes people, Fellaini has balls. A tribute kacking in certain men in red especially Carrick. I agree he is not up to standard, but since Keane`s departure our team has been missing someone who is ready for the fight, quite literally. The problem at OT is sitting on the bench and until he is gone we are fkd.

jack moore - March 16, 2016 Reply

That should have said a tribute `Lacking`

mzulu - March 16, 2016 Reply

There were positives with having hi towards the end of last season. Actually he contributed to our going back to the big leagues (read Europa) But these days I see Fellaini in the lineup and lose all the excitement that had built prior to the game. But again, who knew we were signing Darmian or Martial? Maybe the manager knows best even if the dismal result point to a contradicting tale. #TeamLVGOut should pray we receive a Liverpool hammering tomorrow or a Westham beating. That MAY-and I repeat MAY- knock Woodward back to his senses.

Lee Henry - March 16, 2016 Reply

He’d have fitted in nicely at Wimbledon 20 years ago

Coco Van Clown - March 16, 2016 Reply

The empirical meets the anecdotal meets the statistical meets the reality. Any which way Fellaini is a disaster.

Kristers Grauze - March 16, 2016 Reply

Fellaini is useful palyer to have, but only as rotation player and most certainly not as CDM as he lacks (low work rate, bad tackler, bad tactical intelligence, bad at ball control at his feet and passing, lastly- problems with discipline) all attributes to be able to play in such a position.

Ralph C - March 16, 2016 Reply

– Take those ‘Without Fellaini” stats.
– multiply by 2 for 38 games.
– So we’d have 84 points if those were all league games.
– For comparison, Leicester would need 7 of 8 wins in their last 8 to get to 84 points.

Can we drop this guy already?

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