Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Van Gaal's management not helping fading Fellaini

One United fan suggested that Marouane Fellaini should receive a 'clog to the head' for his performance at St James' Park but judging by how Louis van Gaal reacted to the Belgian's tame header at 3-2, he might have used his clipboard to ruffle Fellaini's hair.

He was described as the symbol of 'post Fergie blues', 'weak' and 'cowardly' whilst many found it hard to believe how he stayed on the field after a number of clumsy challenges and yet Ander Herrera- one of our best performers at Newcastle- was taken off.

BT Sport filmed Van Gaal, in a rare show of emotion, lamenting 'you've got to score' after Fellaini contrived to nod a free header at Rob Elliot. 

Fellaini was encouraged to leave United this month by his national coach Marc Wilmots in November, but he has featured heavily for the side since. 

However, his United career appears to be petering out.

At 28 years old, Fellaini is an older and more expendable member of the squad with a contract that expires in 2018.
There are slicker, albeit  inconsistent options in attack and United have a host of more secure and mobile midfielders to patrol the middle third.


He would have spent last season on loan at Napoli but for injury, yet Fellaini ended the campaign as one of the league's most improved players.
He proved his worth with some invaluable interventions from the bench, and shone as a starter under Van Gaal, with signs that he was developing into a big-game player.


He excelled in games against Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and City, all of which United won.

In that win at Arsenal 14 months ago, Fellaini shielded a makeshift back three of Chris Smalling, Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair alongside Michael Carrick and it remains his sole accomplished performance in his natural position as a defensive midfielder for the club.

The display was skewed, though.

United were pummeled in the first 30 minutes when they looked about as secure as they did at Newcastle, but were grateful for some feckless Arsenal finishing and the impregnable David de Gea.

Defending is not Fellaini's forte.

He has beefed up a lightweight United squad but, despite his physique, he is an ineffectual tackler more concerned with dismembering opponents than dispossessing them. 
His crude and reckless maiming of Paul McShane at Hull on the final day of last season virtually wrote off the first half of his current campaign, as Van Gaal overlooked him in pre-season due to his three-match suspension, and Fellaini is still playing catch up.

Despite Van Gaal claiming he would use Fellaini as a full-time forward, he keeps getting picked in a defensive role.
At Newcastle, injuries to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick forced LVG's hand, yet Fellaini started deep against Ipswich, Middlesbrough, Wolfsburg, Bournemouth, Norwich and Sheffield United, matches in which United's more defensive-minded midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin, Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger were available to play in.


Out of his 10 starts this season, only in three of them has Fellaini been used as a forward.

Van Gaal's questionable management of him has not helped, though, and extends to his substitute appearances.
The booing which greeted his arrival for Anthony Martial against CSKA in November was a mixture of annoyance at the Frenchman's removal, and the choice of replacement despite Martial's ineffective display.


At Newcastle, Herrera, one of United's better players, was withdrawn instead of the lumberjack Fellaini who fouled his way through the first half, rendering himself useless in the second.

In four of United's Champions League group games, Fellaini emerged with the team trailing or goalless.

A defence with Fellaini shielding it, a winger at right-back, a right-back at left-back and a midfielder at centre-half was bound to concede on Tuesday night.

It was United's misfortune that Chris Smalling, our standout player this season, endured his poorest performance since his 'stupid' red card at City, but Fellaini's dozy defending and impotence in attack ensured he would be scapegoat.

Numerous players have suffered in Van Gaal's 4-2-3-1 formation and the Belgian is another.

His best form- and United's- under LVG came in the 4-3-3, with Carrick at the base of a midfield triangle and Herrera and Fellaini collaborating the flanks to devastating effect.

Fellaini was not deployed as the target man- a role that supporters feel demean the club's attacking traditions- and performed with deft and discipline where he bullied a resurgent Liverpool in an impressive showing for a vital United win.

He might not get that chance on Sunday. 


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