Marouane Fellaini: The Symbol of Stagnation at Old Trafford

Watching a recent video of Jose Mourinho teaching Jack Whitehall to drive (yep, that is an actual video on the internet) it was interesting to hear a line from the Manchester United manager where he talked about “clicks” in the learning process.

He was describing the moment the penny drops in a footballer and they become totally adapted to a new role, club or status within a squad. That video came shortly before I saw that Marouane Fellaini had refused to stay at United beyond the end of the season.

READ MORE: Five reasons why United will move on from Marouane Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini.

Marouane fucking Fellaini.

Suddenly I thought about the “clicks” on the Belgian’s journey from David Moyes’ first signing to the midfield maestro he is today where he can demand what he wants from the biggest club in the world. Then I thought some more and pieced together what the curly haired one has brought to the table in his four seasons at Old Trafford.

He’s done absolutely nothing to suggest he should be a Manchester United player. Nothing. All he has done is serve as a constant reminder that whilst a player like that pulls on the shirt, we will never win a league title.

What has he learned? Where has he improved? What is the actual point of Marouane Fellaini?

He’s a centre-midfield player who can’t perform a sliding tackle, play a one-two, switch the play, dribble the ball, picks a pass. That’s an international footballer. Now you may say that isn’t his game and this brings me to my main point. The reason I can’t stand Fellaini isn’t that he arrived at Old Trafford with poor technical ability and incapable of reading the game. I fucking hate him because he is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with United in the post-Fergie era. He is the shining example of what is causing supporters to tear their hair out each season at the inconsistencies and the mundane football.

I hate Marouane Fellaini because he did enough to get a move to United and then thought he didn’t have to do anything else. He was the first to do it post-Fergie and he’s set the benchmark for much of the dross that’s been recruited since. Not that they have all been bad. People chastise (quite rightly) the BMI of Luke Shaw but you have to wonder why he’s singled out for having to change when Fellaini is lauded by our manager has not made any improvement to his game despite having access to the best coaching facilities in Britain on a daily basis.

“He works hard.”

That is a statement I hear constantly about Fellaini and yet for a player who apparently works so tirelessly for the good of the team, I don’t know what Fellaini sprinting looks like. Seriously I’ve never seen it!

What I have seen is him commit identical fouls each week without ever thinking to try a new tactic of not standing on the Achilles of opponents as they’re about to turn. I’ve seen him constantly put his head into opponents and referees whenever the most obvious decision goes against him, an action that saw him receive the red card he’d had coming for years in the Manchester derby in 2017. I’ve seen balls hung up to the back post to be attacked only for him to instead try and nudge the defender (who’s a foot smaller than him) in the back to give away yet another foul.

He has scored headers but you wonder how many more he could have scored if had the ability to actually attack a cross and every header wasn’t cushioned in some way by his curly hair. I mean, we have however many analysts at the club and not one has said: “that header you missed at the weekend that came off your hair and not your head, do you think it might be worth trying a new style to improve your heading”. They probably have and the useless liability ignored them.

You’ll be amazed to know that I wasn’t one of those who booed his warm-up against Spurs last season. I’ll admit that there was a part of me though that felt that, if it made him aware of the fact coming on giving away clumsy penalties like he did at Everton the week before isn’t for Manchester United, then fine. I hoped that would perhaps be his “click”. But nothing changed. Not when it comes to Marouane Fellaini.

He’s made only a handful of appearances this season. When you think that he started defeats in Basel, Brighton and in the season-killing defeat to Sevilla, he’s hardly put himself in a position to start trying to dictate terms. (Incidentally, one substitute appearance at home to Liverpool could have cost United the win with, that’s right, a stupid miss-timed in the box).

We’re now in a situation where Mourinho wants him to stay and the Belgian is telling reporters how United will have to fork out £40m to replace him. He’s convincing no one. Mourinho may be an admirer but you feel it may so he has someone in the dressing room he knows he can control, unlike too many others, and is willing to overlook Fellaini’s lack of actual ball control in the process.

Marouane Fellaini leaving Manchester United needs to happen. United need to rid themselves of a player who has been unable to put in the effort needed to improve themselves at a club of our size. For all the plaudits offered to Ashley Young’s work ethic and willingness to adapt, there’s a silence around too many other “comfort zone” dwellers. Fellaini is the best example of that drop in standard. His departure should be the “click” for others to stop accepting the fact they’ve made it by getting to United, and push them to hone their skills and work harder than ever before to get the club back to the top.

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