Marouane Fellaini once again played a pivotal role in an important game for Manchester United. One could think that sentence is no written often, but the reality is that the Belgian central midfielder tends to step his game up when his side needs him the most.
Granted, he hasn’t had the best season of his career. But every time he scores, it has been an important goal and Sunday wasn’t any different. Manchester United looked destined to settle for a 1-1 draw against Arsenal, but there he was. Fellaini took advantage of a cross from Ashley Young to find the back of the net on stoppage time. United won 2-1, and Fellaini played a big role in the win. There is no question about it.
The fact that Jose Mourinho turned to Fellaini in a critical time showed just how much the manager trusts the former Everton standout. And it’s not a thing of “feeling”, either. Fellaini has spent time sidelined due to injuries, but he has been a regular first-teamer for Mou and the numbers back that up. The 30-year-old Belgium international hasn’t logged many minutes on paper – just 15 Premier League appearances and four as a starter – but he has scored four times. That kind of goalscoring form is very good for a central midfielder, especially one who tends to play on a defensive stance such as Fellaini.
So… what should Manchester United do with him?
The big question here is the following: what should the team do with Fellaini once the current season ends? His deal runs out at the end of the campaign, and there has been a lot of talk regarding his future. Some said he is set to join Besiktas in Turkey. Others especulated he might return to Everton. There were even mentions of him possibly signing with a Serie A side. But ultimately, Fellaini has not talked about his future. And Manchester United has not given any indication on what they want to do with Fellaini, either. Will they extend him? Will they let him walk away for free? There are not many alternatives here.
Well.. Mourinho did give an important update regarding Fellaini’s future with the club after Arsenal’s game, saying “I think a player that grabs the crest after scoring is telling clearly that he wants to stay. I want him to stay, the club wants him to stay, I think he will stay, it is nearly there. We are trying to organise our team and are thinking about improvements.”
So yes, that should clear the air. All signs indicate Fellaini WILL STAY with the team for at least one more season, and it looks as if Mourinho played a big role in that extension. And while Fellaini doesn’t really inspire much to fans with his attitude on the pitch, the reality is that the team needs him. As simple as that.
You might not like him, but the team needs him
Scott McTominay might be an exciting prospect, but he is not ready to be a first-team just yet. Michael Carrick will retire at the end of the season. And while both Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba can play at CM, neither feels really comfortable on that role. Meanwhile, Fellaini thrives in that position and gives the side several qualities – height, aerial ability and toughness, just to name a few – that are desperately needed to succeed in the English Premier League. Nemanja Matic is the only other player who fits that mold, and United need a player who can replace him from time to time. The Serbian is tough as nails, but he just can’t play every single game.
He might not be flashy, but Manchester United needs him. And as Mourinho said, all signs indicate he is set to stay with the club for the long-term picture.