When Manchester United splashed out nearly £30million on Marouane Fellaini, it looked like one of the biggest overpayments in Premier League history.
David Moyes chose to disregard all of the good work the Belgian had done just off the main striker at Everton to play him in defensive midfield alongside Michael Carrick. Fellaini looked clumsy and completely out of place.
Fellaini has been something of an enigma at Old Trafford until the last few months, which have seen him utilised in that more advanced midfield role by Louis van Gaal.
Many wrote him off as nothing more than a flop, but not Van Gaal. The Dutchman’s pragmatic and measured approach has seen Fellaini given plenty of opportunities to shine at United and slowly, he is winning back all of the fans that appeared to have given up on him.
After originally being seen as an impact substitute, who could offer a different threat off the bench, Fellaini has transformed into a dominant threat, who Van Gaal regards as ‘undroppable’, per the BBC.
Fellaini has been fielded just off Wayne Rooney and amongst the tiki-taka style which United have become comfortable with this season, the Belgian offers a different, more physical threat.
United’s variation in attack is becoming extremely useful and difficult to defend against and Fellaini is at the centre of much of their danger going forward.
Fellaini has linked up well with Daley Blind and Ashley Young in the wide left area in the Van Gaal’s preferred 4-3-3 system in recent weeks, thus isolating the smaller and weaker defensive midfielders and full-backs he has come up against.
In Sunday’s Manchester derby, Manchester City must find a way of stifling the threat he poses by setting a defensive midfielder on the case of halting his progress.
Perhaps a physical player such as Fernando should be given the duty of stopping Fellaini’s aerial threat and ability to link the play between the United midfielders and Wayne Rooney in attack.
Fellaini will be key to the outcome of this game after his recent form and City need to have a plan for him if they are to get a result at Old Trafford.