MANCHESTER UNITED are struggling. Defences have their number. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs a plan B. Who should he turn to?
For many managers, Marouane Fellaini was the perfect off-the-bench option to mix things up and help grab a goal – and his departure could be one reason for the Red Devils’ drop-off.
Fellaini had a knack of scoring past United while at Everton, most famously in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last visit to Goodison Park as David Moyes beat his future employers on the 2012/13 opening day.
When Moyes crossed over to Old Trafford, the towering Belgian was a £27.5million deadline day signing that struggled under the Scot.
However Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho knew how to deploy him best: for roughly five minutes per match.
The 2014/15 season saw Fellaini net seven goals, his best return for United as they re-entered the top four.
Vital goals against Tottenham and Manchester City flowed and he later notched in the Europa League semi-final, banged in a last-minute winner over Arsenal as Arsene Wenger bid farewell, and parted with a useful Champions League winner against Young Boys in November 2018.
The Belgian was a figure of ridicule in amongst these moments because United had slumped but it was clearly a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
A mop of frizzy hair caught the eye but it was the gangly elbows and wily footballing brain that did the damage to the tune of 22 goals and 12 assists.
Whatever your thoughts on Fellaini, the club are now desperately short of central midfielders.
Juan Mata is slowing down, Nemanja Matic is on his way out, Scott McTominay can’t carry the side and Paul Pogba is too inconsistent.
The fact that Fellaini’s £27.5m transfer fee was derided despite him being a relative success is quite amazing given Fred cost £52m.
For all his faults, Fellaini had a role in the team and contributed at both ends in his own way.
His replacement, not so much. And the stats don’t lie with just a single goal scored and 1.52 points picked up per Prem game – with his predecessor on 1.8 points per game.
United weren’t particularly good with Fellaini at the club and they were mocked for that fact – now they’re worse.