His bush like hair is the same if not a little shorter, he still possesses the same lanky run with his elbows turning like the sails on a windmill. However, there is one distinct difference about Marouane Fellaini and that is the boy can actually play football.
Brought to United from Everton by David Moyes on transfer deadline day in 2013 for far too much money. He was paraded in front of the media, and from the start the Belgium midfielder did not look comfortable, if anything a little sheepish in his new surroundings.
In his first season at Old Trafford he played as if he wanted to be somewhere else, most likely back at Everton, where the demands on his talents were lower. He was probably happy when he was sidelined with a wrist injury as it kept him away from the critical eyes of the fans and media.
When Louis van Gaal marched into the hot seat at United it seemed that Fellaini’s days were numbered. Poor form and low confidence combined with the departure of his ally Moyes, it was obvious to all that he would depart for pastures new.
But surprise, surprise that did not happen. Fast forward 6 months and here we have a completely new player at United. A midfielder whose all round game and team contribution has changed a thousand fold. Not only more tactically astute and aware of what’s happening in the game, but also contributing with goals.
The biggest question has to be how did this transformation happen? The answer is clear, Louis van Gaal and his coaches must have taken Fellaini aside and informed him that he has a talent that they can use to maximum effect and a future in the new systems being implemented. How else can the change be explained?
Is it really that simple? Yes, because in the modern game the players are too spoilt and sometimes they just need to be told how good and needed they are. The arm around the shoulder philosophy does actually work. There is no other possible explanation to the new found confidence and performance levels in Fellaini’s game.
His all round contribution has made it a little difficult for him to be left out of the side, and he seems to be higher up the pecking order than the likes of let’s say Ander Herrera. Also, his more artistic team mates seem to relish it when he’s on the park as he does most of the leg work. He has more importantly won the respect of the faithful fans.
It said a lot about his new found self-belief when he scored the opener at Loftus Road on Saturday and immediately ran straight over to the bench to celebrate with his compatriot Adnan Januzaj. He explained that it was because they are best friends in the squad, but I’d like to think it had a deeper message. I believe Fellaini was displaying an empathy for Januzaj due to his lack of chances in the side and telling him ‘If I can turn it around so can you.’ I would like to think that was the real reason.
I have a simple message for Mr.van Gaal. Whatever you have said or done to Fellaini to produce a completely different player to last season could you please do the same with Evans, Jones and Smalling. That would be just great.
Thanks to all as always.