Considering everyone else seems to be cashing in on the “Love Letter to Marouane Fellaini” genre, the latest being Roger Bennett’s two cents on ESPN, I thought I’d kick in my two cents over the Belgian star at Everton.
Why do I love Fellaini? Is it his 8 goals or 3.6 shots per game? His ability on the ball?
I love Fellaini because his ability to trap the ball is among the best thing a bad Premier League season has going for it this year.
Picture any odd English football game you’ve ever seen. A lull in play following a goal-kick. The keeper, feeling he’d better just punt the ball forward in the hopes of creating something, anything, to appease his fans, his manager, his god, sends it long to a forward or attacking midfielder who usually a) heads it back to the defensive midfielder or out to either a winger or full-back, b) tries to run on to in a way that gets him past the central defenders, or c) bobbles it out to touch, conceding possession.
However, when the keeper is Tim Howard and Fellaini is the target, things tend to turn out a little differently. As in, Fellaini will trap the ball calmly, make space for a pass, and pass the ball to an onrushing midfielder or winger.
Despite the hemming and hawing about the interdependence and complexity of football and its lack of discrete events, Fellaini’s little things pay huge dividends.