Wednesday evening was one of great significance to Everton. The Toffees’ board had the job of replacing David Moyes in the summer – their manager of 11 years – but this week the Merseyside club had the opportunity to face up against the man who left them for Manchester United. The smiles were blue, too, as Everton snatched a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Bryan Oviedo strike in the second half. The loss was a blow for United who now sit 12 points adrift of current leaders Arsenal going into the weekend’s early kick off against Newcastle.
There is one man who will need to step up should the Red Devils claim anything against Alan Pardew’s side, and that’s Marouane Fellaini. After his big money move from Everton he has struggled to find his feet in a red shirt and fans are starting to vent his frustrations towards the Belgian.
Fellaini had a better game on Wednesday than people are giving him credit for. He may be about as mobile as the statue of Sir Alex Ferguson outside the ground, but the way he kept the ball moving against his former club played a big part in how United dominated.
His four interceptions and three completed tackles made it difficult for Everton to really get a foothold in the middle and as a result forced the Toffees out wide. Football friends and budding partnership James McCarthy and Gareth Barry were solid in their defending, but Fellaini was also impressive from his defensive base.
He completed 62 of his 67 attempted passes – giving him a completion rate of 93% – and he put in a real shift throughout the game.
He will be pivotal in United’s success against Newcastle tomorrow as Pardew – who has just been named Manager of the Month after guiding the Magpies to four straight wins, demands direct football. Fellaini’s height will be crucial in cutting out the aerial balls which Toon use to attack.
He’s also a warrior on the deck, making 25 tackles this season so far. He may not be the most exciting player to watch but he’s slowly becoming the player that United fans had hoped he would be when the club splashed out on him in the summer.
If Fellaini is serious about winning the fans over and repaying some of the fee that was paid for him then Saturday could be the perfect platform to do so.
Article by Patrick Gleeson of FootballFriendsOnline.com – follow him on Twitter for more.