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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Fellaini & the best Everton have played

 57 Comments: First  |  Last

Three years ago, our transfer record was broken when we signed Fellaini. I was pretty surprised when I logged on to a hotel computer the morning after the summer transfer deadline had closed and discovered we'd signed a big Belgium guy. I'd never heard of him but liked what I read and was excited about how he would improve our team and season. He settled quickly and looked comfortable with the pace of the PL; getting plenty of goals, plaudits and, of course, bookings.

However, Fellaini still polarises opinion among us fans, at least on this website. Some view him as an expensive liability, totally overrated, while others idolise him. I think he's a great talent and believe he will go on to be one of the best midfielders in Europe. More often than not, he is at the heart of everything good we do. We would have been knocked out the cup last night but for his well taken equaliser.

Fellaini was untouchable when a highly motivated Everton team beat Man City at Goodison Park a couple of seasons ago. I think we won 2-0. Remember his pirouette? This was as good as I'd ever seen Everton play. I must declare at this point that I don't really remember the mid-80s and certainly nothing before. Prior to streaming games online every week about 4 years ago, I probably only ever watched full games on TV as well as maybe two live games a season. This is probably the case for a lot of us not living anywhere near Liverpool.

With a visit to Manchester City this weekend, I'm hoping for a similar performance. Can we continue to take 6 points from a flying City team this season?

Have you seen a better performance from Everton in the league in the last 20 years? Were we even that good that Wednesday night back in early 2010 or am I way off the mark?

Tom Winek, Kent     Posted 22/09/2011 at 12:00:41

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Rob Hollis
1   Posted 22/09/2011 at 14:45:23

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He is the rock around which the team should be built. Best thing since Peter Reid.
Anthony Hughes
2   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:05:54

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He's a good player but I don't see him as possibly one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Sam Morrison
3   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:08:52

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I rate Fellaini. But my fave performance of the last 20 years ? or the one that springs to mind, at least ? was a long time ago, beating Spurs 4-1 in the FA Cup Semi-Final.
Shaun Brennan
4   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:16:02

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He hasn't really set the world on fire has he. I'm afraid until he gets a full season, for me the jury is still out.
Andrew Ellams
5   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:25:44

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Not many players hit their peak in his position at his age. He will get better with experience and will go on to dominate some of the best midfielders around. Just hope it's at Everton...
Peter Warren
6   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:40:16

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Like you, I'm too young to remember 80s except for the 89 FA Cup Final that I attended. Love Fellaini ? but Joe Parkinson was great in the middle for me; Spurs Semi-Final, best I've ever seen us play; I didn't realise we could play that well. We absolutely destroyed them.
Chez Hutton
7   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:38:25

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Personally I think he's mustard. Appreciate he's had a few injuries that have meant he's been a bit stop start, but when he's been fit he does the job.

I think the position he plays as the 'Makalele' as it's become known isn't one where you're likely to win many games for your team and sometimes it can look like you're doing not much ? but he's great on the ball, great when we're defending set pieces and links play very well. On top of this, he is an option further up the field as proven last night. I'm very surprised that Chelsea or Utd didn't go for him in the transfer window, but also very glad!
Danny Broderick
8   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:47:15

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For me, he needs to be playing alongside a high energy midfield player. Someone like Scott Parker would be perfect, rather than Rodwell, for example. He has got undoubted ability and does most things well, but the one thing he hasn't got is a great engine or turn of pace.

I think he's a really good player and I like him, but I think that for a club with our finances, we threw all our eggs in one basket with him.

Mike Gaynes
9   Posted 22/09/2011 at 15:52:39

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There's not a doubt in my mind that Fellaini has the potential to be one of the best holding midfielders in the world, a Makalele-plus with the ability to score. The two obvious questions are health and location.

Nobody pulls out of a challenge against Fellaini... he clearly drives opponents nuts at times... and I think he will continue to be a target for ugly fouls.

As to whether he stays at Everton long-term... I doubt it. I hope so, but I doubt it. His father clearly has big-time ambitions for him, and those are ambitions that Everton cannot meet right now.
Ben Howard
10   Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:09:35

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I've just read Stevie Gerrard is glad to finally end the nightmare, has he finally left Liverpool?
Tom Bowers
11   Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:33:05

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Nice one Ben.
Regarding Fellaini he has talent no doubt and was starting to really show it last season before his injury.
He can be the fulcrum that Everton need now that Mikel has gone. Together with a maturing Rodwell, the youth of Barklay and the speed and cleverness of Drenthe we have cause to believe in better things down the line.
We usually play well against City but they are going to be hard to stop the way our defence is performing.
Anthony Manning
12   Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:27:08

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Broderick #8, the big man is a great player when played in his favored position of just in front of the back 4, as for his engine, the man is a Rolls Royce with a beautiful head of curly black hair.
Brian Waring
13   Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:47:44

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Fellaini has done okay, but he is way, way off world class, IMO, he still has a lot to prove to even be labelled a top quality player.
Ciarán McGlone
14   Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:31:23

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Average and a liability.

I expect a good perfomance on Saturday though.
Liam Reilly
15   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:09:22

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"Average and a liability"


Poles apart is right.
Dalziel Kane
16   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:09:16

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I was curious as what to expect when he arrived from Leige for a record price, granted, the player is a colorful character and may be seen as a crowd favorite but there have been times when he hasn't really delivered or has been disappointing, I'm not buying into the fact some see him as a player of great caliber, he has had his moments and I hope to see some more of what he can contribute in future encounters.
Chris Ashton
17   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:19:30

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I agree that the team should be built around him. Sadly, the same can be said about Rodwell! Best case senario for the Blues will be to sell Fellaini overseas for a about the same or more than we paid for him, then build the next 10 years around Rodwell and Barkley.

Personally I would build a team round Fellaini instead but what are the odds of him being here by 2013?
James Martin
18   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:18:41

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He's too slow to ever make it to the top of the game. He's not a particularly good passer either, especially long ones, and he doesn't really have a rasping shot. Saying that, he does have an uncanny knack of seemingly falling into the player with the ball and coming out of the tussle with it. He also seems to get his fair share of misplaced headed goals and snap-shots inside the box.

I still think he personally slows down the play too much and is just as negative in his passing as Rodwell. His height has been a useful weapon both offensively and defensively, but this shouldn't really be enough to rank him as one of the world's bests. Busquets is twice the player he is already.

Karl Meighan
19   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:07:37

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Remember the pirouette? He's been living off it. I like Felliani compared to Rodwell and agree with Anthony @ 12 that in front of the back four is his only position. Rating him 'world class' though is way over the top.

Things will take shape over the next 4 or 5 games and I have no confidence in them players that played last night at all. I don't see a packed defence and midfield helping on Saturday and I expect we will see how far behind and how average are midfield really is against a top team.

Can somebody explain how Rodwell gets a shirt before Barkley in a midfield lacking guile, skill, creativity and pace? Things will get that bad I expect calls for Anichebe to be bought back in as soon as he regains fitness.
Mark Murphy
20   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:33:11

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He's not fit to lace Peter Reid's boots and it was the semi-final we beat Spurs 4-1.

He's okay but too ill-disciplined to avoid the ref's attention. I worry he will get sent off in every derby!
Jeremy Benson
21   Posted 22/09/2011 at 17:46:56

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Fellaini doesn't cut the mustard for me. One or two good performances a season do not justify the rest. He reminds me very much of Gravesen, infuriating mostly, brilliance occasionally.

When players are patchy, is it inconsistency, lethargy, shop-windowing or fan fickleness? Who knows...

I'm a bit gutted we didn't get Hargreaves. He put in a shift for England in a game a few years ago (I forget which), during which I felt it was the best performance I've ever seen of a midfield player, any team, any match, any player.
Ray Robinson
22   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:12:20

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Good player but no more than that in my opinion ? too many weaknesses to be great (stud-showing tackles, slow, one-paced), But I wouldn't worry about him anyway because he'll be gone soon!

Would people rate him so highly if it wasn't for his distinctive hairstyle? Stupid, I know, but does the "barnet" enhance the exaggerated cult status?
Peter Fearon
23   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:28:36

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Fellaini can be a great at times, at other times he can be a clumsy oaf. It's easy to overlook the fact that he is still quite a young player and he is likely to improve with experience. If he is worth £15 Million, however, then Arteta should have been worth twice that when we sold him to the Gunners.
Stephen Doyle
24   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:33:24

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Jeremy (21) Wow, Fellaini doesn't cut the mustard, but Owen Hargreaves does?! And the best performance of any midfield player ever??!! Are you serious? Have you not watched any games involving Xavi, Iniesta, Maradona, Zico, Zidane... etc?
Mark Rankin
25   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:41:06

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I want to like Fellaini and see a full season but up to now ? didn't someone produce stats on this last year ? we have better results without him in the side...
Jeremy Benson
26   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:48:18

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Stephen, yes I have.

To be fair, I did say it was only once...
Lee Courtliff
27   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:42:04

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Jeremy Benson 20 - You must be thinking of the World Cup Q/F against Portugal back in 2006.

I remember watching Hargreaves that day and thinking he looked absolutely amazing.

And he was the only one to score for us in the shoot-out.
Jeremy Benson
28   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:58:20

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Lee, we must both be deluded. He doesn't have a foreign name...
John Ford
29   Posted 22/09/2011 at 18:55:50

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He'd be ten times better without Rodwell standing next to him in the centre of the park Jacks a centre back!

Best performance? recent times I think Tommy Gravesen's golden spell in 2004-05? was quite brilliant, and ended with him going to Madrid. I've not seen an Everton midfield player dominate so much, and I include the 80s team. That team were great but individually the influence Tommy had for that half a season was unique.
Jeremy Benson
30   Posted 22/09/2011 at 19:03:05

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John @29 ? we can hopefully see the best of Fellaini in the last 6 months of his contract then, too...
Jeremy Benson
31   Posted 22/09/2011 at 19:13:06

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But just ask Stephen ? he thinks he can see through everyone else's eyes... last film I saw about that was Jeepers Creepers...
Paul O'Hanlon
32   Posted 22/09/2011 at 19:36:09

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Fellaini's a quality midfielder.

How many central midfielders are there in Europe who are 6'-4", have a great touch (every time the ball comes to him in the air he instantly controls with his chest rather than engaging in head tennis) and are equally adept at defending set pieces as they are attacking?

Add to that he's only early 20s and with less than 2 years left on his contract... just watch the type of clubs who come in for him over the next 12 months.
Sam Morrison
33   Posted 22/09/2011 at 19:49:29

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Mark (19) thanks for the correction - failure of brain-to-keyboard rather than actual memory.
John Ford
34   Posted 22/09/2011 at 19:30:50

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Jeremy, its true that Grav was in and out for most of the time with us. Remember the game he was sent off for two yellows within the first quarter of the game? It was like someone had removed his brain!

For some reason though it clicked with him. Carsley was part of the reason cos he dominated the space just in front of the back two, and Grav did all the rest.

Players develop at different times and a system will work if players complement each others strengths. Xavi and Iniesta wouldn't be anywhere near as good without each other. I'd like to see Osman next to the big Fella, or ideally a maturing Barkley.

If he develops like Tommy did, I'd be well pleased. The problem would then be, as usual, keeping hold of him. Six months might be all we get!
Joe McMahon
35   Posted 22/09/2011 at 20:25:57

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Danny Broderick (8), spot on - I agree with every word.
Kevin Tully
36   Posted 22/09/2011 at 20:27:59

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If he doesn't sign by Christmas he will be gone in January. The club won't let him run down his contract as Pienaar did.

His old man has agitated for a move and is quoted as saying Chelsea are after him.

It would be a shame if he left, he offers a bit of bite to an extremely lightweight midfield.

James Stewart
37   Posted 22/09/2011 at 21:11:14

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Fellaini could become a class act and for his age he is already turning in some outstanding performances. He just needs to be more consistent and improve his concentration. But he is still young.

Best performance was the 3-1 demolition of Man U for me. City are a much superior side than they were last year. A point would be an achievement.
Brendan O'Doherty
38   Posted 22/09/2011 at 21:13:43

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" He settled quickly and looked comfortable with the pace of the PL..."

Anything but, Tom. It took him most of his first season to settle in precisely because he looked so UNCOMFORTABLE with the pace of the EPL, hence the mistimed tackles and resultant bookings.

Anthony Manning
39   Posted 22/09/2011 at 21:45:38

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Jon#35, why are you agreeing with Broderick #8? Everytime he posts it`s like he`s auditioning for unerversity challenge!
Ryan Holroyd
40   Posted 22/09/2011 at 21:45:58

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He's a bit inconsistant but when on form he's up with the best in the Premier League.

To say he's average is stupid.

I also think its a myth about his 'indisipline'. He was only booked 3 times last season and 1 red. Hardly excessive for a midfielder like him.

On another point, Graveson was dog shite for all but 6 months of his Everton time.
James Elworthy
41   Posted 22/09/2011 at 22:20:54

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Fellaini has a groin strain dont expect him to play on Saturday
Iain Love
42   Posted 22/09/2011 at 22:19:10

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Graveson was a headless chicken who played well in a 5 man midfield because others did his work.
Felliani has the potential to be as good as Veira, but i agree Rodwell doesn't suit him unfortunatly we haven't got another option.
Steve Smith
43   Posted 22/09/2011 at 22:46:06

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Fella IS class and will be world class and hopefully make us a huge profit {if he signs a new 3 year contract then we sell him next year that is !} those of you who can't see his class are banned forthwith from don't deserve to be there !!!!
John Ford
44   Posted 22/09/2011 at 22:53:16

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Iain. Im not sure Real Madrid are attracted much by headless chickens.
Steve Smith
45   Posted 22/09/2011 at 22:49:26

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"Mark Murphy
He's ok but too ill disciplined to avoid the refs attention. I worry he will get sent off in every derby! "

I'd be worried if he didn't mate, we need characters like him in derby games!!! did you worry about big Dunc in derby games ? Fella is the type of player we need in these games, who gives a fuck if he gets sent off ? that's what derbies should be all about, hard tackles, niggle, barneys all over the pitch, red cards, the crowd baying for blood, what more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon?
Steve Smith
46   Posted 22/09/2011 at 23:05:53

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John 44:
I reckon they thought they'd signed Carsley.
Robert Daniels
47   Posted 22/09/2011 at 23:11:01

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I can't believe we are still debating this?

Fellii is WORLD CLASS, he is young, players in his position do not mature till 26/27 years of age. He's different, he's got the lot.

Someone said in this post that he struggled in his first season... 10 Goals?

He's coming back from injury, and said himself that we won't see the best of him till later.

Real Madrid, or some other money club will buy him in January, because Everton / Kenwright / Moyes have already put him up for sale. By Moyes insisting he won't be a Pienaar, means that if he doesn't sign the new contract on offer, he will sell him in January. We don,t know what the offer is?

They're setting him up, like Arteta, for a transfer..............

Hang your head in shame Moyes / Kenwright.

Felli.................. world class.
Sean McKenna
48   Posted 23/09/2011 at 00:49:43

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Sorry, for me, he is average... Too slow.

I ask you this: would you take Carsley in the holding role or Felli on their peak? Felli plays it simple just like Carsley did, only Carsley puts in much more of a shift and tracked runners better. Our defence has never been the same since Carsley left.

John Keating
49   Posted 23/09/2011 at 03:23:08

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Good thing about big Fell is that when we sell him, probably in Jan - we'll get our money back.
Sam Hoare
50   Posted 23/09/2011 at 09:08:52

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Saturday will be very interesting. Its probably the first team we have played that will genuinely come at us with the debatable exception of Blackburn away.

Last season we seemed to do better against such teams than against the bus parkers. Think in a mini league of the top 8 we came 2nd or 3rd! If we can do anything like that again this season i will be impressed.

How Felli and Rodwell play together (assuming they start- wouldn't be surprised to see Neville or Heitinga thrown in) will be crucial. I fear they may come up short against a very talented City side.
Ryan Rosenberg
51   Posted 23/09/2011 at 10:05:56

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Love him, our best player in my opinion when on form. But has been a bit inconsistent. We see the best of him then he gets injured - if he can hang on to that form he is easily one of the best defensive mids in Europe.
Ciar�n McGlone
52   Posted 23/09/2011 at 10:03:41

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"To say he's average is stupid.

I also think its a myth about his 'indisipline'. He was only booked 3 times last season and 1 red. Hardly excessive for a midfielder like him.


How exactly is it stupid? You're comment is stupid. It may be your opinion that he hasn't been average - but THAT'S YOUR OPINION.

He's been very consistent over his career here - constantly dwells on the ball concededing posession, has a questionable first touch and is clumsy on teh ball at time - to balance that he's had some very good appearances - BUT THEY ARE IN THE MINORITY, the fact that people refer to a single Man City game - only goes to support this...therefore in terms of permiership midfielders, it's my opinion that he's been average. If you have a counter-argument, then produce it.

As for your suggestion that his indiscipline is a myth - I can only imply that you don't watch a lot of Everton. It's also convenient that you only analyse last season.
Anthony Millington
53   Posted 23/09/2011 at 10:27:20

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I think Fellaini is over-rated. He is the most casual holding midfielder I think I've ever seen. Players run past him or beat him to the ball and he doesn't track back with them half the time. He gives away needless free kicks although he has improved on the amount he gives away. As said above he isn't even a great passer, has no pace and doesn't possess any real world class qualities in my opinion.

However, if we did sell him (if anyone wanted him) we would need a replacement because he is tall and wins alot of headers in the middle of the park. I'd also like to point out that it's no co-incidence that we always seem to go on good runs when he is injured.
Tom Winek
54   Posted 23/09/2011 at 13:03:27

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#50 Ciaran
The single game v City last year was in context with tomorrow's match and I couldn't disagree more with your analysis of Fellaini. He dominates midfields, dicates play, breaks up play well, evidently has an eye for goal, good passer, is good in the air, has the stamina of a mule, an improving disciplinarily record and has great hair. He's 23. We'll see how average he is when he's playing with teammates as good as him. That's my opinion anyway.
Martin Mason
55   Posted 23/09/2011 at 12:59:38

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I didn't like him at first but I've seen many phenomenal performances since but disrupted by the bad injury he received. He will be a top European midfielder in a couple of years but it won't be with Everton. We'll moan about him now and then look back with a different view when he's gone.
Steve Ferns
56   Posted 23/09/2011 at 13:04:43

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#42 Gravesen was a fantastic player. Smith didn't know what do with him when he first got him. problem was that he played in the "Mattheus" role for Hamburg, between the defence and midfield. In england, especially at the time, we believe that to play there you need to be a Joe Parkinson type and whilst Gravesen with his appearance looked the part with his crazy eyes and shaven head, he lacked most of the key components to play there. Smith even moved him into a centre back position for one game, which was as bad as it souneded!

Moyes didn't know what to do with Gravesen either and it was not until he switched it to a five man midfield that we saw the best of him. People often commented, including the lad i sat next to that he looked like a headless chicken. I used to say that this was due to the fact that Gravesen wanted to be on the ball always, to dictate play and he could not do this if Unsworth was continuously booting it over his head for Ferguson (regardless if he was playing or not). Eventually, I expect by chance, Moyes pushed Gravesen further up the pitch and made Carsley sit, and as Iain points out got others to do his running for him. Whilst this is not quite true, as Gravesen was largely mobile, he did require others to perform his defensive duties. Gravesen was then able to drift around the pitch where he wanted to, to impose himself on the game, and to dictate play. I believe that he performed to the best of his abilities in that wonderful 6 month spell and we achieved so many points in it, that even when he left and we struggled in the second half of the season, we were still able to secure 4th. Most of that was down to Gravesen. I'm pretty sure that we got 66% of all of our points that season from the Gravesen period.

I think Moyes did a similar thing with Arteta. He arrived in a defensive role, found that he was not the type of player to play as a DM in the english game and was shifted out of the way to the right wing and given licence to come in from there and try and dictate play. Eventually when losing his pace after injury, Moyes had no choice to play him in the middle.

With Fellaini, Moyes has played him al through the middle. It's obvious that like the two aforementioned he is not a DM / holding player, but he is a similar type of player who wants to dictate play, but lacks the all round (defensive) game to be trusted by a manager like Moyes in the centre of a midfield 4. Unlike the other two, Fellaini is less mobile and less able to influence play as a result. He doesn't seem able to drive play forward with the conviction of a Gravesen in his pomp, and he also lacks the long range passing ability of Arteta. I don't think he will ever be as good as them, and if we got our money back (£20m+ after interest on the loans secured to buy him) then we should certainly sell him and look to bring a better playmaker in, like Moutinho formerly of Sporting (remember how he destroyed us in the EL) and now with Porto.
Ciar�n McGlone
57   Posted 23/09/2011 at 13:34:15

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"an improving disciplinarily record and has great hair."

I'll give you that bit Tom.

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