The only constant in this world is change. And it is never more true than in football. Football fans are a notoriously fickle bunch, who can change their minds at the drop of a hat. Never has this been more evident than with the case of Marouane Fellaini.
At the start of the season, there were plenty of Manchester United supporters who were calling for the Belgian midfielders head. But after a couple of impressive performances against West Brom and Chelsea, Fellaini had is finally in their good books. So much so that some see him as the perfect option in central midfield to add more balance to the defensive side of the team.
Fellaini’s performances have come exactly at the wrong time for Ander Herrera, who was just coming back from injuries that plagued him at the start of the year. The Spaniard started the season brightly and showed himself to be useful in both attack and defense. But his injury, coupled with the side’s lack of height has meant that Louis Van Gaal has had to use Fellaini against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Fellaini flourished in both games and did a great job of man-marking Fabregas and Yaya Toure in both those games and also gave the side some much-needed height in set pieces. This has prompted the Dutch manager to give him an extended spell in the side, which might not be the best thing for either Herrera or the club, going forward.
While the Belgian midfielder is certainly a good Plan B, using him regularly means that the Red Devils will have to either slow the game down or hit a lot more long balls, neither of which is likely to appeal to the fans who want to see attractive attacking football.
This is precise where the 25-year-old Spanish midfielder comes in. If there was one player who influential in the way the Red Devils played in pre-season or at the start of the season, it was Herrera. The Spaniard’s ability to find the forwards with consummate ease, was one of the main reasons why the side scored so many goals at the start of the season.
But with Van Gaal’s decision to go to a more defensive and controlled setup in the past few games, Herrera has been the odd man out. While Juan Mata was always going to give way for Wayne Rooney when he was back, Fellaini’s good form and Michael Carrick’s return to fitness has meant that Herrera, although fit, has been left to warm the benches.
While Fellaini is a great option when you need steel and strength in midfield, the Belgian offers precious little in terms of ability going forward. And given that the Red Devils will only need that the next time they come up against Chelsea or City, it is time for the 63-year-old Dutchman to give Herrera a run of games in the League.
Against City, even Rooney was used in central midfield ahead of Herrera. With the declining form of Robin Van Persie and the injuries to Radamel Falcao, Van Gaal would be better served moving the Englishman up front and free up the space for Angel Di Maria to work his magic, as he did in his first few games.
Doing this will mean that the 63-year-old would have the luxury of using a three-man or a two-man central midfield. Playing alongside a more defensive-minded player like Daley Blind in a two-man midfield will bring the best out of the Spaniard, who has shown won almost as many tackles as the Dutch midfielder.
If Van Gaal does decide to play a 4-3-3, then Herrera would be the perfect option alongside Blind and either Fellaini or Carrick, depending on the opposition that they are facing.
Herrera, who was one of the first big-money signings in the summer is every bit the box-to-box midfielder that the side have been clamoring for. All the 25-year-old needs is some faith shown by his manager. Will Van Gaal, a manager renowned for his faith in young players give the Spaniard a fair chance, that is the million dollar question.