Manchester United aren't solely reliant on Marouane Fellaini, but another experiment may be needed

Fellaini United

Neutralising the threat of Marouane Fellaini has been highlighted as a reason for Chelsea and Everton's recent wins over Manchester United.

After two defeats on the bounce for Manchester United, both without scoring and their heaviest defeat to Everton for over two decades, there is bound to be the odd murmur that the good progress Louis van Gaal has made with the team over recent months may be halted as sides start to work them out. 

They may not have been worked out yet, but van Gaal needs to tweak things a little after relying heavily on Marouane Fellaini for their Plan B. If United couldn't play through the midfield, they could simply bypass a lot of players by allowing their awkward target man to bring the ball down and get United on the front foot. 

During United's impressive run which has seen them perform well and beat both Tottenham and Liverpool to put them as firm favourites to qualify for next season's Champions League, sides haven't really known what to do with the Belgian. 

Opponents have faced a dilemma of whether to take the game to him and be aggressive against him in the air or to just let him have the ball. In reality, their apparent plan to deal with him has been something of a halfway house which hasn't really worked, and allowed Fellaini time and space. 

The first challenges from defenders from both Chelsea and Everton set the tone for how they were going to deal with the threat of Fellaini, they took the aerial challenge to him and were aggressive. So much so in the case of Everton, he was clearly rattled against his old club - resulting in an early booking and was hauled off at half time. 

Of course one big aspect of United's past two defeats is the absence of Michael Carrick to keep some solidity at the back, and get things moving from back to front - so their past two defeats are not all down to the threat of Fellaini being nullified. 

Both Chelsea and Everton weren't opened up and remained compact, and United have the talent to open up sides that are prepared to sit in against them; they will probably need to be a little more expansive with the use of Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw in the full-back roles going forward, and to get in and behind the back line. 

There may have been more emphasis placed on Fellaini in recent weeks, but don't be surprised to see more and more string pulling coming from Ander Herrera in their next game against West Brom, who will happily invite United on to them as Tony Pulis will more than likely look to thwart Man United when they visit Old Trafford at the weekend. 

Of course, it's a little disrespectful to say that all United have is a long ball option to Fellaini, they have many other technically gifted players. But if he is their Plan B - maybe he should be shifted to Plan C. 

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