No goals, one assist, zero physicality, timid play, $46 million.
That’s what Marouane Fellaini has meant to Manchester United this Premier League season, and yet his manager has his back.
According to Red Devils manager David Moyes, the Belgian has “done a lot good things” this year.
It’s still unknown if Moyes is referring to the same Fellaini that we are, because it’s difficult or impossible to figure out just what “good things” Moyes is referring to.
The boss used the Bayern Munich Champions League match as an example. In reality, Fellaini was the only Manchester United player who did nothing to justify their 1-1 final scoreline from Old Trafford.
He was erratic on the pitch, useless in the air, and reckless on the ball.
According to Opta, Fellaini finished the Bayern match 24/32 passing (75%), completed just one tackle, two interceptions, and the most troubling of all: a pitiful 1 of 7 in aerial duels.
He was dominated in the midfield by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who caught Fellaini ball-watching and scored the equalizer as the Belgian failed miserably to follow his mark.
For a player standing at 6’4″ and known for his prowess in the air, those striking numbers are just one sheet in his manilla folder which reveals a season-long struggle. According to WhoScored statistics, Fellaini averaged 6.3 aerial duels won per Premier League match last season with Everton. This year at Manchester United? Nearly half that, at 3.3.
This all follows a season where Fellaini scored 11 Premier League goals at Everton under Moyes and assisted six more.
Another striking number is his yellow cards. A physical midfielder such as Fellaini is bound to receive the occasional yellow or two, it’s just part of the game. However, this season, after earning himself nine last year in a stellar last season at Goodison, Fellaini has just one yellow in 14 Premier League appearances, lending itself to a lack of physical play.
Moyes lets Fellaini off the hook by giving his midfielder the same excuse he provides himself, “It’s not an easy move coming to Manchester United, as I can tell you,” Moyes told English media. “For Marouane, I think it’s proved equally as difficult.”
That’s just about the worst made-up excuse imaginable. Hopefully he can start to cope with “difficult” situations given his signature for one of the largest clubs in the world. And his performance on the pitch hasn’t backed up his manager’s faith. It’s time to find a different option.