Marouane Fellaini Signing For Manchester United Was The Beginning Of Their Problems
Happy Anniversary Manchester United fans. Six years ago today the club signed Marouane Fellaini from Everton, in ia move that signified the beginning of the downward spiral that they're still fighting against.
In May 2013 Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager of United and was replaced soon after by David Moyes. Since then it's pretty much been all downhill for the Red Devils, with some out of place highlights, but the signing of Fellaini is where things really started to go badly.
Whilst you could argue the Moyes decision made things bad in the first place it really was the signing of Fellaini from Everton that was the moment that should be pointed to before everything unravelled.
Since 2013 United have failed to win the league, having won the title in Fergie's last year, and the closest they've come is being second by 19 points to Manchester City in the 2017/18 season.
Four times in the last six years the Red Devils have failed to finish in the Premier League's top four, having never previously finished lower than third, and little so far this season suggests they'll be in the Champions League places in May.
And there's been countless millions wasted on players, including the likes of Angel di Maria and Alexis Sanchez who's form fell off a cliff after signing.
The summer Fergie left the club lost David Gill as their chief transfer negotiator and replaced him with Ed Woodward and the transfer window didn't reap the rewards fans, or Moyes, would have been hoping for.
As well as missing out on Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, the club made a midfielder a top priority and went after Cesc Fabregas, Toni Kroos, Thiago Alcantara and Ander Herrera, whilst the new manager also hoped to be reunited with Fellaini at Old Trafford.
The Everton player was available for £23.5 million at the beginning of the summer thanks to a release clause in his contract but as United tried to negotiate deal for other targets the clause expired.
Instead the then Premier League champions had to pay £27.5 million on Fellaini on deadline day, whilst they also failed to sign Leighton Baines in a double swoop, and the Belgian became their only signing of the summer.
Further embarrassment came on the same day as Fellaini's move with three lawyers turning up at the offices of the Spanish league claiming to represent United and were there to complete a deal for Herrera from Athletic Bilbao.
The club claimed that they had no knowledge of the men involved and that they had no intention of paying the full £30.4 million for the midfielder, despite already missing out on Fabregas, Thiago and Kroos, with the latter two moving to Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Herrera would join the next summer but the Red Devils, despite signing Paul Pogba in 2016, have yet to fix midfield issues that have plagued them since before Fergie's retirement.
Fellaini's best position was arguably never in central midfield and was as a number 10 there to win headers but it was never the United way to launch long balls at a forward.
Ander Herrera #mufc have ditched those "fake lawyers" and getting the deal done themselves this time. Wonder what Moyes is thinking?- Warren Haughton (@WarrenHaughton) June 24, 2014
In the intervening years between Fellaini signing and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team failing to beat Southampton the midfielder was often solid, and sometimes even the hero for United, but he was a beacon of everything wrong with the team.
A decent player but not of the level that United had been used to and unable to get rid of him or replace him with better quality, the former Standard Liege player stayed at Old Trafford until February when he left for Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng.
Before his move to the Far east the 31-year-old got just two league assists in 119 appearances, a figure he's already matched in China, for United whilst his goal scoring record isn't much better, bagging 12 times.
Solskjaer has finally started getting rid of the deadwood in the squad, which has included Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian, but ironically the failure to bring in a midfielder this summer means the squad would be stronger with Fellaini right now.
There was a scene at the end of series two of BBC comedy League of Gentleman where Benjamin Denton finally escapes his uncle and aunties house and comes across the 'Local Shop' and he blames his demise at the door of the shop.
Of course it went wrong before he landed at the 'local shop' and the shop itself had issues before he arrived but also epitomises where everything unravelled for him and he ended up a hostage.
That's Fellaini for United, he isn't at fault for all the ills and some issues existed before he signed for the Red Devils but he symbolises everything that has become wrong with a team that used to win everything.
Happy Anniversary everyone!