Marouane Fellaini finds form for Man Utd under Louis van Gaal
Manchester United (odds-on 1/3 for a top four finish) are finally starting to see the best of Belgian bruiser Marouane Fellaini, after a despicable debut season at Old Trafford.
Following his reported £27.5m move from Everton on summer transfer deadline day last year, Fellaini struggled in the transition from Blue to Red, making only 16 appearances under then-manager David Moyes.
United’s newest boss, Louis van Gaal, has given functional Fellaini a long run in his side, leading to top performances from the former Toffees favourite.
This will come as another undermining blow to the former man at the Old Trafford helm Moyes, with the Scot having made Fellaini his debut signing at the beginning of his short Red Devils reign.
Having failed to score a single goal in his first campaign, the brawny Belgian has managed two Premier League strikes under Van Gaal’s watch this term.
Following a ferocious effort against West Bromwich Albion in October, fiery Fellaini headed United in front in an eventual 2-1 victory over Stoke City this midweek. Juan Mata, another Moyes signing, grabbed the winner from a curling free-kick to secure four consecutive wins for United.
Moyes’ inability to use Fellaini in a more advanced role baffled fans, instead opting to deploy his new signing in a midfield duo, trying to reinvent the Belgian, but to no avail.
Fans called for Fellaini to be axed in the summer, hoping for a more dynamic midfield maestro to take his position in the side.
Although, despite mass amounts of criticism, the World Cup commander has dug deep to rekindle the form that captivated Goodison Park, making him a pivotal player in the eyes of the Van Gaal.
Fellaini’s latest performances provide further examples of his ability to stir problems for the opposition, when utilised correctly. In spite of his possible technical limitations, the United powerhouse is now showing some value, when Van Gaal plays to his strengths.
The Belgium international isn’t a typical United player, passing with a slower tempo that is expected at Old Trafford and appearing flat-footed in possession, explaining the lack of assists in his game.
However, when placed high enough up the pitch and close to the strikers, feisty Fellaini can cause any defender problems with his towering height and physicality. His aerial ability to make a nuisance of himself creates openings for star players, such as Angel Di Maria and Robin Van Persie, to expose.
Van Gaal’s decision to introduce Fellaini into the team, having now secured six consecutive starts, can possibly be put down to the absence of European football, after United missed out on a spot in the Champions League.
Nevertheless, Fellaini, who netted once for his country at the Brazil final this past summer, has made the most of his chance under the new Dutch coach.
High-flying Southampton are ahead of the European football absentees in the league table, but the sides will clash next week, with Fellaini set to play an integral part for United yet again. Van Gaal’s cogent competitor is 5/1 to score anytime against the Saints.
United are 8/5 to win when the two sides square up at St Mary’s, where they’ll be targeting five consecutive victories with the aid of their brilliant Belgian.