Why Fellaini is an important player for Mourinho’s Manchester United
He may not be a fan favourite at Old Trafford, but he is the manager’s go-to man in any circumstance – that man is Marouane Fellaini. The 6’3″ tall Belgian isn’t impressive and easy on the eye, however, to Jose Mourinho and his playing style, the 30-year-old has been a key player for Manchester United.
The Portuguese manager has used Fellaini in various situations to demand the same thing – win the headers and provide something extra to the team. When United need a goal, he is thrown as an auxiliary centre-forward to win headers and knock it down for other runners.
While defending a tight lead, the Belgian is subbed on to be an added defensive midfielder and win important headers from corners or long balls.
In short, Fellaini has turned himself into a perfect utility man for Mourinho, who is effective without thrilling many football fans. But at the end of day, “job done” is the word which comes out when the “Fellaini-plan” works to the desired effect.
Against Burnley, the 30-year-old versatile midfielder was given the defensive midfield role from the start to protect the centre-backs from the route-one football played by the Clarets. Here’s how this plan worked to the point, envisaging the fact that the midfielder, who was bought for £27.5m, is actually an effective player at Manchester United:
Performance analysis – Fellaini vs Burnley
Jose Mourinho showed his experience by putting his tallest player in front of the back-four against Burnley. The Portuguese was clever as he knew Sean Dyche’s men play the long-ball game in which one of the two strikers occupy the centre-backs, allowing space for the other.
Mourinho almost played another defender in Fellaini, who was there to win every aerial ball towards the opposition strikers.
This way, the central defensive pairing of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof could concentrate on the other striker, making the game comfortable at the back. This plan worked to perfection as the 30-year-old Belgian won 7 aerial duels, and had a pass success rate of 90% in the game to nullify the primary threat of their opponents.
This was just an example of how Fellaini is used for different roles at Old Trafford. One can never forget Louis van Gaal’s masterclass at Anfield in 2015 where he used the Belgian to aerially dominate Liverpool; it worked to perfection. The 30-year-old is a very useful player at Manchester United, whether or not the fans like this fact.