Frogs and humans have one thing in common; they both adjust to the situation very well. The former can withstand the temperature of boiling water, but when it starts feeling uncomfortable, it is unable to escape and eventually dies. The moral? Escape before you run out of strength.
Back in 2009 when Manchester United fell prey to a formidable Barcelona side in the UEFA Champions League final, questions were asked about their mushy midfield. 4 years on, those questions still lay on the table, unanswered.
Although they still managed to win two Premier League titles since, the quality of the squad was a very compelling reason for some to raise a few eyebrows. Sir Alex Ferguson was known to get the best out of whatever he had in-hands, but to expect his successor to do the same was perhaps his biggest mistake.
When David Moyes arrived at Old Trafford to succeed his fellow Scot, the expectations of the fans were unchanged; they wanted a marquee signing to remedy their much-paralyzed midfield. The former Everton and Preston North End boss was aware of the same and hence duly decided to go shopping.
The media started the usual speculation. The prime targets were two academy products of the same Barcelona side that embarrassed them a few years ago; Thiago Alcántara and Cesc Fabregas. And when David Moyes went on to confirm their interest in the latter; the standards were automatically set high. The fans were expecting big names to grace the grass of the Theatre of Dreams.
But then, every story has a twist, so did this. Barcelona rejected the bids for the former Arsenal captain, leaving the fans dejected. With Pep Guardiola acquiring the services of Thiago for Bayern Munich, United started to look meek in the market, once again.
The following few days saw papers linking the English champions with an entirely new bunch of players, the only certainty was Everton’s number 18, Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian international expressed his immense desire to join Moyes’ United and the deadline day of the transfer market saw his wish come true. He was Manchester United’s number 31 by the midnight of August 31.
Since then, he has made only a meager 11 appearances for the club in all competitions, starting 4 league games, without scoring a single goal yet. His 30-odd minute debut appearance at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace remains his ‘best’ contribution in a United shirt, till date. He has quite clearly struggled in adapting to life at M16 and things only worsen for the 26-year-old.
David Moyes recently went on to state that the Belgian will be out for two-months, until February, thanks to this prevailing wrist injury. The ‘Lampshade’, as he is called by United supporters due to his apparent lack of mobility and his fuzzy hairstyle, will have to remain in shades and sort out his form because he is proving to be a failure in that defensive role.
At Everton, he played mostly in the number 10 role which arguably brought the best out of him. He was the chief creator for the Toffees last season and also scored a few goals to become the most popular player at the Goodison Park. His bossy presence in opposition’s penalty box afflicted a lot of chaos (and casualty), which established him amongst the best midfielders in the Premier League.
At Manchester United he was asked to do exactly the same, but in his own penalty area. He was made to slip to fill the void of the defensive midfield. It looked as if Fellaini himself was ready to take the challenge, but as it turned out, he miserably failed.
His movements have been shoddy and his composure has been shallow. Every time he approaches to tackle somebody, he mostly draws out a foul against his own side. It looks as if he is being forced to play in that defensive role and hence is venting his frustration out on the field.
With Fellaini out for two months, United may well be forced to recruit someone in January. They have proved to be a victim of the ‘Boiling-Frog’ syndrome. The amendments should’ve been made when they had the strength, not when they ran out of it.
There might still be a scope for improvement for him, there might still be a silver lining in the cloud, but as of now, Marouane Fellaini is a failed transfer, the title reads aloud.