Can Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini Be Fixed?


Just two years ago, current Manchester United player Marouane Fellaini starred for Everton as a commanding defensive midfielder. That seems a lifetime ago for a player who now finds himself positionless and on the fringe of the United roster. Is there a road back for the towering Belgian?

I must admit that just a few short years ago I enjoyed watching Marouane Fellaini play football almost as much as any other player. He was a sublime combination of skill and physicality in the middle of the pitch that made him one of the Premier League’s best midfielders. That seems like ages ago.

Today Fellaini is more like a novelty act. He can’t seem to break into the United squad in the midfield so manager Louis Van Gaal opted to use him as a striker. I suppose I can understand the logic that a tall, physical player who is good with his head can serve as a valuable target man, but it still feels odd to me. Can you really go from one of the world’s top comprehensive midfielders to just a target to fling balls at in just two short years?

Yes, he suffered a significant ankle injury that reportedly helped to keep him at the club in 2014, but it wasn’t something that should have derailed his entire career. It should have been a blip on the radar of a strong career for the Belgian international. Instead, he’s never looked like the same player again.

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No matter the reason for his career’s sharp trajectory change he must act immediately to salvage it. He was on pace to be one of the world’s best midfielders and now he’s a punchline to a joke. This is a change in circumstances that certainly requires swift and decisive action.

The first thing he must do is to find a way out of Manchester United. I don’t blame the club or Louis Van Gaal for not playing him as a midfielder in his current state, but it’s not doing the player any favors. Furthermore I can understand why they tried to play him as a striker to try to gain some value from him on the pitch. Still, this isn’t about what’s best for United it’s about what is best for Fellaini.

He has to leave United because he must find a club where he can be deployed again as a midfielder. That’s where his true genius as a player has a chance to reemerge. In the 2012-13 season for Everton he scored an incredible 11 goals and posted a rating of 7.59 for the season playing that role. That same player rating/performance would make him one of the ten best players in the League by today’s standards. He wasn’t just good for Everton, he was great.

If he’s able to play again as a midfielder he has a chance to rediscover his previous form. He’ll never achieve that playing as an occasional striker for Van Gaal’s United. Maybe his physical skills have declined to the point that he can’t replicate his form from Everton, but he’s just 27-years old. He’s still in his playing prime in terms of age. You certainly wouldn’t bet against a 27-year old playing his best football.

What Fellaini needs is a chance to play his preferred position for an extended period of time. If he can’t do that at Manchester United so be it. He should be prepared to take a step back in terms of club reputation and prestige to kickstart his moribund career.

Marouane Fellaini was once a great Premier League football player. Now he’s nothing more than a sideshow act for Manchester United. If he wants to be great again, he’ll need to leave Old Trafford and find a side that will trust him to play as a midfielder and find the magic he once had.