How Marouane Fellaini could change the shape of Manchester United's midfield


Manchester United seem ready to focus on Marouane Fellaini as a move for Cesc Fabregas seems to be dead in the water.

Fellaini had a superb season with Everton under David Moyes last season, which prompted the original rumours that he was destined for a bigger club and desired a move away from Goodison Park.

United’s failure to sign Fabregas means there is now a real possibility that Fellaini could be wearing a red shirt before the start of the season but Moyes has to be very careful that he doesn’t affect other quality midfielders in the United squad.

Fellaini was at his best last season when he played at the top of the midfield, bullying opposition defences back and generally using his physical attributes to drag Everton’s attack into various games.

United can’t afford for him to become a target man playing off of a main striker because if that style of football develops, it will take a huge deal of emphasis away from the class and skill of Shinji Kagawa as a creative midfielder.

Fellaini can play with Kagawa because he’s not a terrible player with the ball on the floor but if United use him to become more direct, Kagawa could quickly become ineffective trying to play a subtle and skilful creative role at the top of the midfield.

Kagawa may even be forced to drop deeper, moving more towards the United back four in order to pick up the ball and use possession as opposed to waiting for flick ons and layoffs from the big Belgian.

It’s interesting that Fellaini has been playing a more withdrawn role for Everton in pre-season and that could be the best way for United to use him because it means the roles of Michael Carrick and Kagawa wouldn’t need to be changed.

Fellaini is certainly a good enough player to play a holding role in midfield, which would allow Kagawa to stay in the attacking third of the pitch and it would also benefit Carrick’s game tremendously.

Carrick would be able to maintain a lot of the skills and positives he showed last season (closing down, pressing, cutting off the angles and going for interceptions) more aggressively, knowing that if he gets his timing wrong, Fellaini is there to see off any danger.

If Fellaini is pushed on in a more attacking style, there is extra pressure on Carrick to play defensively when he’s at his very best, setting the tempo and controlling the game in the middle of the pitch over protecting the back four.

It’s a big ask for Moyes to take a player he asked to play a certain way last season and ask him to play a completely different role but for Fellaini to have a big effect at Manchester United, that’s something which may just have to happen.

How do you see Fellaini playing at United? Will he create problems or solve them?

image: © nicksarebi

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