Man Utd are a hard squad to assess. On one hand they have great firepower upfront, wingers who on their day can be unplayable and the winning mentality of champions. On the other the spine of the team looks weak and arguably has for some time. Of particular concern is the central midfield area. Gone are the days when Keane and Scholes formed one of the top central midfield units in Europe. The central midfielders at David Moyes disposal are not of the same quality. There’s the chronically unfit Anderson, a player-coach Ryan Giggs who can no longer play every game, an injured Darren Fletcher, an out of position Paul Jones, an out of form Tom Cleverly, the metronomic Michael Carrick and the new boy him of the awesome afro Fellaini.
The brightest light amongst these options is undoubtedly Michael Carrick. A steady player Carrick distributed the ball in the unfussy manner that is probably as close to the retired Paul Scholes as any one currently in the premier league. The news of an achilles heel injury that will keep him out until at least Christmas is a massive blow. With the transfer window shut the player that needs to step up is the only real defensive midfield left Fellaini. Such is the paucity of Utd’s midfield options and the importance of the position that it is no exaggeration to say that Utd’s hopes of launching a competitive title challenge this year will turn likely turn on Fellaini’s performances over the next ten games. Utd may be the masters of the New Year title charge but an impressive January will only matter if they are close enough to the top teams.
The question is can Fellaini step up to the plate? His performances so far have been underwhelming. The dominant midfield presence of the Everton has been lacking with the stand out memory of his Utd career so far being a sending off against Real Sociedad. This lack of form is especially troubling since with over 100 premier league games under his belt the hope would surely have been that Fellaini would settle in quickly. Still Fellaini looks to be far too talented not to be a success at Utd. Furthermore, the weekend fixture against Cardiff should provide a perfect opportunity for Fellaini to find some form as the midfield battle against Gary Mendal is sure to be combative and this extra physicality might just spur Fellaini on. His team desperately need it to be so.