How Manchester United ended up paying so much for Fellaini

Jonathan Birchall
How Manchester United ended up paying so much for Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini has simply not transformed Manchester United's midfield in the way that many fans hoped but few truly expected he would. For a man with hair you can spot from the back row of the Sir Alex Ferguson stand, he has too often played like a man desperate to hide at Old Trafford, weighed down by a ridiculous price tag that hangs like a millstone around his neck.

But, for all of the alliterative headlines bookending his surname with ‘failure’ or ‘flop’ since his 32.4 million euro deadline day move from Everton, there remains a United coaching team which is delighted with the Belgian, whom the coaches privately describe as a model professional and excellent trainer.

"Marouane has knuckled down and acted professionally from day one," a Carrington source told Goal. "He has delivered what the manager expects from all his players: 100 percent commitment."

This is no Bebe situation, when first-team coaches took to warning their colleagues to duck whenever the 8.8 million euro signing got the ball in his first week of training.

Yet that, in turn, begs the question as to why he has become an anathema for such large groups of fans only months into his Old Trafford career. The answer, in short, is that Fellaini is not close to being worth the money the champion paid for him. That the Belgian ended up costing 4.1 million euros more than the 28.3 million euro fee agreed with Everton on the very same day the club signed him rather neatly sums up the mess created by United. 

A mess is how you would describe United's entire transfer strategy last summer. A scattergun approach without any bullets. Fellaini has become the unfortunate collateral of a two-month muddle built on poor planning, risk and subsequent panic.

Andy Cole, who joined United in 1995 as the most expensive British transfer of all time, sympathizes with the Belgian and the weight of expectation that comes at Old Trafford.

"I think he's found it difficult going to Manchester United, especially for the price," Cole told Goal. "He has been in and out of the team recently and the fans have been on his back a little bit.