Leave Fellaini alone – the big man is more than just a meme

Much of the criticism of Marouane Fellaini is unfair...


At some point in the past, Marouane Fellaini underwent a process of memefication, whereby everything he says or does is completely dismissed and rewritten under the guise of attempted comedy in line with prescribed stereotypes.

Whether you’re a Ronaldo fanboy who doesn’t assess anything other than which blade the man got on his short-back-and-sides for his upcoming La Liga game against Granada, or you’re a footballing hipster that only watched the Peruvian second tier because people ‘just don’t get it, man’, you’ve likely had a swipe at the Belgian in the past.

Of course, in some breaking news, there is life outside the internet and Marouane Fellaini is actually one of European football’s most consistent, dependable assets. Note the term asset as opposed to positional specification as nobody in their right mind will claim Fellaini’s in the top drawer when it comes to technical ability, but he’s gorgeously conservative in his approach and that has a right to be celebrated, too.

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Let’s get rid of the some of the obvious things one can choose to bate him with. He’s tall, he’s got mad eyebrows, he’s Belgian and he has an afro. Oh, and Jose Mourinho loves him so he’s an easy target for United fans to blame their entire misfortune on.

His new deal at United was scoffed at, as was his introduction for Belgium against Japan. These two will have similar results. The midfielder/battering ram struck against Japan and he will strike countless times against teams for Manchester United this season.

Of his 246 Premier League appearances, Fellaini has started just 198 of them. He’s managed 37 goals and 16 assists. That’s 53 goal contributions in 198 starts. Whatever way he manages to provide an impact, you simply cannot deny the numbers. The man is effective. Oh, and of those 37 goals, 10 have been match-winners and a host more have saved United or Everton from the jaws of defeat.

While Roberto Martinez is the worst barometer on the planet any sort of measurement of critical thinking, he trusts him in big situations. As does Jose Mourinho – so much so that he somehow managed to overlook the various poorly captioned images that the LADS™ have photoshopped onto a picture of the man making an awkward pose.

If Barcelona-based intricacy is the zeitgeist of this generation, then Fellaini is the counter-culture. And for every defining characteristic to truly be established on its merits, you need an efficient rebuttal. The Belgian is effectively Che Guevara to the monotonous tiki-taka waffle that would have left Belgium still looking for an equaliser.

If Fellaini was weak on the ball, if he didn’t contribute, he’d be playing for Cercle Brugge. If he didn’t produce in big moments, he’d be out of the World Cup and sat at home, booed to death by his own people.

He is neither of those things – he’s a roll of the dice that lands more often than the ‘humour’ of those who mock him, which is primarily based on jokes about how he personifies the failure associated with the clubs and managers he’s represented.

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