Picture the scene. It’s February 2019, United are seeing City set off into the sunset with a period of dominance looming large. The Reds are drawing 1-1 at home to newly promoted Cardiff City and need a goal to avoid going 15 points behind Guardiola’s men. Ashley Young and Chris Smalling are still half of United’s backline and Mourinho is getting ready to send on archetypal ‘Plan B’ otherwise known as his infatuation, otherwise known as Marouane Fellaini.
He remains a Manchester United player. God only knows how. United have been held to ransom by a player who only made four starts in the space of seven months. Unbelievable, really. A player who rejected the club’s offer of a new deal nine months ago and has seemingly settled on accepting the deal as nothing more financially handsome came along. The entire situation stinks.
What does it say that Mourinho is ‘delighted’ by the news his curly son will have somehow lasted as a United for potentially eight whole years? He has had his moments, don’t get me wrong, but his signing was not one bringing uncontrollable excitement and he has hardly set the world alight.
United have given in to the demands of a mere squad player, who never showed the slightest yearning to prolong his stay prior to his current deal’s conclusion. If that was the case, he would have penned terms at the earliest opportunity.
United’s decline has coincided with placing importance on players like Fellaini — they have been holding onto sub-par players for far too long and the gap to City is of the yawning variety. United had the chance to move away from this period of stagnation which Fellaini epitomises but it has been spurned due to Mourinho’s insistence every effort be made to retain him in the roster.
Why? That is the million dollar question on your lips. Michael Carrick has hung up his boots, so maybe United were reticent to lose another experienced member of the squad, particularly with Fred potentially taking time to acclimatise, as is customary with Brazilian players. The most plausible of the consensuses, for mine, is that United have saved money on another midfield acquisition to strengthen other glaringly pressing areas.
This does not sit well with me on two scores: 1) United shout from the rooftops about their financial prowess and revenue totals. Money should be no object and outlandish transfer fees for some are drops in the ocean for United. And 2) Scroll up to the aforementioned scenario of relying on Fellaini to score a scabby winner against Neil Warnock’s team after Ashley Young and Chris Smalling had been found wanting at the back. Depending on your standpoint, some will say that’s a possibility, others of the more cynical type will say inevitability.
I’m not buying the ‘If Fellaini staying means United secure quality additions at left and centre back and a replacement for Anthony Martial, that’s fine’ argument. Like I say, United have the capacity to make those type of additions irrespective of whether the lanky afro stayed or not.
Scott McTominay is more than capable of filling the void and my fear is his development will now be stunted.
Even with my distaste for Fellaini, he wears a United badge — which unconditionally gets my support.
United have spurned the chance to move on and could live to regret it.