Jump to content
Join Talk Chelsea and join in with the discussions! Click Here

Would Fellaini fit at Chelsea?


SeB

Recommended Posts

With the speculation increasing for the January transfer market window about a possible move to Chelsea for Everton’s main asset this season, I decided to have a look at Marouane Fellaini’s possible contribution to the current Chelsea team. The Blues arguably need more options in central midfield since the departures of Michael Essien and Raul Meireles. The big Belgian would probably offer something few clubs could boast about in terms of variety but there’s other fair reasons to think he wouldn’t be what Chelsea needs to first and foremost to ‘save his season’.

He’s a target man and offers variety

Everton has finally managed to match his potential on the paper right from the start of the season. The Toffees sit 6th on the table after 17 games and hound Chelsea from just two points. David Moyes’ recipe is quite simple in terms of playing approach. He managed to implement a whole team around one central player, the 6ft4in Belgian Marouane Fellaini, recently elected Barclays Player of the Month for November.

Fellaini uses to be played in front of two other midfielders (Darron Gibson, Phil Neville, Leon Osman) on a weekly basis whereas it was rather a punctual use from Moyes in the past, depending on the opposition and the options available (through injuries, suspensions…). Everton’s pattern is characteristic and features a pleasant alternation of on ground (52.2% possession, 9th rate) and direct play (66 long balls per game in average, 4th in the table) based on Fellaini’s ability to act as the target man for Jagielka, Distin or Gibson and Osman’s long balls. Nikica Jelavic tries to float in Everton’s number 25′s shadow but his contribution to the overral play is quite restricted left aside the second balls and the one touch finish opportunities in the box.

But the mighty Belgian also holds a crucial role to provide support to Leighton Baines (or Séamus Coleman) who can get on the overlap and combine on the left channel, as has been highlighted by previous statistical focus. At Chelsea, the expected defensive woes at the back (resulting from an insufficient defensive work from Mata, Hazard down the flanks) has still only been the half of the unappetizing cake of the full backs left alone. With no options to combine and get on the overlap, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic have been too often useless (and caught high up). Still Mata’s opener against Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-final is one another example of what can be Ashley Cole’s attacking impact when he’s provided options to link up in the last third.

Since Didier Drogba’s departure last summer, Chelsea arguably lack an option forward to relieve defenders from pressure. John Obi Mikel is the easy way for his team mates who rely on his reliability related to his oustanding ball retention skills and composed passing but the Nigerian’s positioning at the heart of the play hardly allows him enough space to dictate the play ; often forced to provide a safe distribution to the few options available around him.

Fernando Torres’ slight improvement in terms of winning aerial challenges is clearly not enough ; considering he’s never been particulary highly regarded for his hold-up play. Branislav Ivanovic getting higher up on goalkicks is the only option available for Petr Cech when he has no other choice than to hoof the ball.

Marouane Fellaini would then provide variety to the Chelsea team who could punctually break the build up of his attacks via a vertical, direct long ball. Ryan Bertrand’s (or Theo Walcott) ability to follow second balls and run through space would then be used on a more regular basis, considering he’s virtually the only player to make this kind of run in the current Chelsea squad (left aside Fernando Torres).

NO
Probably not Fellaini’s very best game in midfield (still, he was in good form last winter). We can notice the mostly sideways passing game, the propensity to link up down the channels (Baines’ left) and the waste in the vertical play. Source: The Guardian chalkboards

The mighty Bruxeller can also be frustrating when he attempts to find his team mates through space or through a line of players with a chipped pass seemingly aimed randomly, as it was the case on several occasions recently against Tottenham. Some of his forward passes aren’t properly paced as well, as the receiver is forced to anticipate, reach out the pass and use his body to protect the transmission to be intercepted or cut. His lay backs from aerial balls are fairly accurate but we can’t always say the same about his doubling play when he has to exchange several one touches short passes with a team mate close to him.

Fellaini barely features a creative passing range (through a line of players, in tight intervals vertically) in his overral passing game ; something we can’t only put down to a matter of role given by his manager (what was however John Obi Mikel’s case at Chelsea FC in his former holding role in 4-3-3). As Chelsea tend to play a brand of football relying on the technical superiority of his starting eleven, thus exhibiting high passing success rates whatever approach chosen (possession high up the field or counter attack) ; the Blues probably can’t afford such technical limits and waste.

He’s not broadly better to what Chelsea has defensively speaking

final-def.png?w=551&h=413


It’s fair to say that Fellaini offers something in between Ramires and Mikel when it happens to recover the ball. The former Standard de Liège midfielder probably covers as much ground as Ramires does during games and arguably shares the same aggressiveness to challenge or dive for the ball. At the same time, his frame is similar to a certain extent to Mikel’s when he has to defend standing and/or on the man. Still, we can note a kind of over-reliance from Fellaini to dive into challenges via tackles to recover the ball as his intercepting skills doesn’t particulary catch the eye. If every team needs someone whose role would be much of the ball winner, we still have to nuance considering the requirements related to wether a team use or not to dominate the ball.
A team who’ll deliberately leave the ball to the opponent will reduce as much as possible the space in between the ball and his goal by featuring more players in his own half. A densified space will tend to force duels and then increase the amount of tackles, fouls for that team (proving the point to dispose of good defending players).
In contrast to that case, a team who’ll tend to dominate the ball will rather use assets such as pressing to shut down the opponent’s attacks. The deepest midfielder then won’t need to be a typical old fashioned ‘defensive midfielder’ with outstanding defensive abilities considering his role would me mainly to collect the crumbs after the sequences would be chopped with an efficient pressing. In case of the pressing having been unsufficient, that deeper midfielder would be forced to commit the odd tactical foul.
We can give as prime examples of such a defensive system the Barry/Touré partnership at City or Xabi Alonso/Khedira at Madrid. Nor Barry nor Alonso are what is commonly called ‘defensive midfielder’ ; still they are the deepest midfielders of their team in attacking and defensive sequences. Their role is rather to act as an additional launch pad to the center backs thanks to an accurate passing range (and the ability to play vertically, with different levels of ability) considering the team they play for enjoys the ball most of the time.
Marouane Fellaini relies on his ability to cover a lot of ground thanks to his outstanding stamina, then he can hold the same sort of special role he’s been given on attacking sequences when his team isn’t in possession at Everton. Still, for Chelsea being mobile probably wouldn’t be sufficient as he’s not explosive enough to come out and press the holder of the ball whereas he doesn’t particulary shines with his positional sense (to cover a team mate or fill a gap). Versatility among the several defensive tasks we can expect from a midfielder is something that can be very useful from a collective point of view, but only if the player is versatile enough to switch between several roles (something Raul Meireles experienced during his season with the Blues). The overral balance is made harder to find if some players can’t or don’t hold a precise role, primarly in defensive sequences. In my opinion Fellaini is a player-system, not a player of a given system ; the reciprocity is not as obvious actually.




There are probably better options out there

In a similar fashion than Clint Dempsey at Spurs, if we imagine Chelsea signing Marouane Fellaini, he would get into a squad where there’s better attacking players than him, better defending ones as well. Here lies the question about the amount of money the London club could reasonably spend for a player with a lot of assets and mixing quite well such different aspects of the play – something Chelsea clearly missed given the lack of defensive work from his attackers Sturridge, Mata and Hazard the recent months – but not overally better than one starter of the current system in particular.
Everton and David Moyes raised eyebrows when they purchased for £15m a dynamic ‘box-to-box’ midfielder from Standard de Liège, most notably known for his habit to break the play. Considering the way his english career turned and how crucial he is for his team at the moment, one can expect Everton to hold his main player as long as it will be possible, and only consider big money offers to even think about a possible departure. Medias speculate about a fee around £30m. The main word about Fellaini seems to be ‘variety’, ‘Plan B’ but wouldn’t it be wiser to spend such an amount of money on a regular starter who wouldn’t require a mini-revolution in terms of how the team would play ? (to suit his play).
In my opinion there’s wiser buys considering Chelsea needs first and foremost squad options, because the starting XI is probably good enough (the recent issues lies in the relevance/irrelevance in the playing application) but dragged by the lack of options on bench. There’s decent and cheaper options in Premier League or elsewhere such as James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic) on who Chelsea keeps a close eye for some seasons, or Etienne Capoue from Toulouse.
265 fouls since July 2011 are hidden somewhere in that picture, will you be able to find its?
After Chelsea’s failure to bring back the Club World Cup after his short but meaningful defeat to Corinthians last week, the second event having occupied the headlines has been Marouane Fellaini’s headbutt to Stoke’s captain Ryan Shawcross. If it was an odd happening, something you wouldn’t have expected from the player we’re talking about, I’d probably have moved on without evoking the event in such an article. But that’s precisely not the case here ; beside his oustanding footballing abilities, Marouane Fellaini has established himself as a player breaking the play with either bad pieces of defending or reckless challenges. If he has endured a similar start to his Premier League career than John Obi Mikel (Fellaini collected 10 bookings in his first 17 PL games, 19 in all competitions on his first season in England) before , he has kept a form of consistency in terms of fouls committed ; probably the consequence of being one of the few players having played both as central midfielder and central striker the recent seasons. Since his first season in Premier League (2008/09), only outside class Kevin Davies has fouled more opponents (354) than Fellaini did (337). The Belgian appeared in the top 5 for 4 seasons out of 5 (left aside 2010/11 which was cut short by an injury) in the Premier League. It’s still fair to say that Fellaini has also been the victim of his own characteristic style with probably an amount of unfair fouls against him due to the fact big players are often under scrutiny from referees.
But we can then easily imagine the media fuss that would be made out of his fouls and persistant use of his hands or elbows to push opponents or grab their shirts ; let alone the impact it would be on his team’s play with more dangerous situations (set pieces) to cope with or wasted attacking sequences (something Fernando Torres can also be blamed for with too much clumsy fouls when he pressurizes defenders).

Click here to view the article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 40
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

I hate what you have written? Why? Because I am jealous I did not write it myself. In other words, I love it.

My excessive rhetoric (bombastic!) really restrains my ability to write a coherent analysis of football.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having gone through that, the best thing I can say about it is that it's long and seems to have a lot of stats copied and pasted. I think you've used some stats to support your agenda and I think that damages the credibility of this attempted article. For instance I don't think the stats you're using throughout this pertain to Fellaini's possible position at Chelsea (a DM, not the second striker/no. 10/advanced midfield role he plays at Everton).

I also think you have to bear in mind the fact that he is playing for a significantly weaker team who don't put such an emphasis on possession as Chelsea do.

One of the points I do think has some merit is It’s fair to say that Fellaini offers something in between Ramires and Mikel when it happens to recover the ball. Right now we seem to have two players who do the job of one. Ramires tends to cover Mikel's deficiencies without offering enough going forward. There are also questions over Mikel's workrate, which I believe is an area where you praise Fellaini in particular his stamina.

One think I don't see you make much mention of is one of the things you really notice when actually watching the games rather than relying on stats - attitude. Fellaini is a personality in that midfield, someone who steps up and puts the team on his back. Just look at the Man United game where he went on a one-man wrecking spree and drove his team forward. Mikel, in my view, is the complete opposite. He looks good when we're playing well but he has a tendency to disappear when the going is tough (Juventus, Shakhtar, West Ham, West Brom). To me that comes down to his personality - inside he's still the same kid who turned up late for training and nearly got chucked out of the club. In that position you need a guy who doesn't shirk challenges (Makelele, Deschamps, Wisey).

And the Shawcross incident is nothing - even Spackers twatted monkey-face on the odd occasion. :lol2:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good article SeB, obviously I had a read earlier just thought I'd comment on it now as I was back home. Hopefully this will make people see some of the cons about signing Felliaini as well as the pluses compared to certain players we have, well Rami and Mikel. Still against him signing, especially for 30 million.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good article - so you're saying you wouldn't necessarily want Fellaini here, but wouldn't be completely opposed to it?

I did the yes part, if I didn't people would have said to me that I shouldn't focus only on cons and that there's plenty other aspects blabla... But obviously I'm broadly against. I wouldn't say no for something like 20m and a part time role but that's not likely to happen like that: more expensive and he would certainly have a main role. That's why I wouldn't be surprised to see him signing in Russia to be fair, like Hulk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate what you have written? Why? Because I am jealous I did not write it myself. In other words, I love it.

My excessive rhetoric (bombastic!) really restrains my ability to write a coherent analysis of football.

I know that feeling buddy, I had the same sensation on Michael Cox's stuff on Benitez's first game in charge. For once that I decided to write something on a game everybody did the same on it, some raised points I wanted to make etc...

Having gone through that, the best thing I can say about it is that it's long and seems to have a lot of stats copied and pasted. I think you've used some stats to support your agenda and I think that damages the credibility of this attempted article. For instance I don't think the stats you're using throughout this pertain to Fellaini's possible position at Chelsea (a DM, not the second striker/no. 10/advanced midfield role he plays at Everton).

I also think you have to bear in mind the fact that he is playing for a significantly weaker team who don't put such an emphasis on possession as Chelsea do.

One of the points I do think has some merit is It’s fair to say that Fellaini offers something in between Ramires and Mikel when it happens to recover the ball. Right now we seem to have two players who do the job of one. Ramires tends to cover Mikel's deficiencies without offering enough going forward. There are also questions over Mikel's workrate, which I believe is an area where you praise Fellaini in particular his stamina.

One think I don't see you make much mention of is one of the things you really notice when actually watching the games rather than relying on stats - attitude. Fellaini is a personality in that midfield, someone who steps up and puts the team on his back. Just look at the Man United game where he went on a one-man wrecking spree and drove his team forward. Mikel, in my view, is the complete opposite. He looks good when we're playing well but he has a tendency to disappear when the going is tough (Juventus, Shakhtar, West Ham, West Brom). To me that comes down to his personality - inside he's still the same kid who turned up late for training and nearly got chucked out of the club. In that position you need a guy who doesn't shirk challenges (Makelele, Deschamps, Wisey).

And the Shawcross incident is nothing - even Spackers twatted monkey-face on the odd occasion. :lol2:

I didn't get the start of the message, precisely I chosed only to pick figures from his games played in midfield last season, he played 30 games as central midfield. If he's ever going to sign at Chelsea he'd be used primarly there and not as central something at the heart of the play.

You didn't got me either on the possession thing: I don't care about the difference between how the team can and do play possession football (until a certain extent, basically to dominate the ball), I wanted to highlight the fact that Fellaini would struggle at Chelsea on that passing aspect.

Passing game is a collective approach, based on a pattern of play. The players you play in that system can be outstanding passers restricted in a given role (Mikel) or the opposite, average passers with a lot of freedom (what I think Fellaini is).

I don't say Fellaini is a bad passer because he plays with donkeys who can't control a ball, I judge him on his individual technique to pass the ball, regardless if the receiver does something of the ball.

Same stuff that the assist provider/striker (or goalkeeper/striker for long balls), you obviously needs two players. The assister can create a clear cut chance that the striker won't convert, the provider will still be credited of that ability to create clear cut chances... Am I clearer?

Mikel lacks mobility, that's something we can observe and that most of the people overrating Mikel as fuck are fairly open to discuss. Still we have to take into consideration that his defensive game is based a lot on zonal instructions, no point to recall how a clueless dog à la Tioté is useless and create massive gaps.

What do you mean by workrate? For me at Chelsea that's not just about wandering all game long on the pitch. Mikel has good defensive figures and is the player who plays the most passes every game (stop pretending that's useless or easy if he can do that 70 times a game)

WhoScored did some stuff about that. Obviously that's to put in relation with the time in possession, that's unsurprising to see Noble, Leigertwood or Mulumbu there as their teams are 16th, 20th and 17th on the possession table (chase the ball almost 60% of the time)

http://www.whoscored.com/Blog/nfjguoozpumzj-wg7xluca/Show/Player-Focus-Premier-Possession-Winners

Mikel is our best leader on the pitch at the moment. Not saying for all there's not better leaders (because obviously there is), it rather shows where we are as a team when Lampard, Terry aren't there. He's incredibly consistent (when people will understand that wether he's targeted or not that makes most of his game, i.e Arteta wasn't in bad form against us, he had Oscar chasing him all game).

What I see is a player constantly moaning, shouting and arguing with referees on the pitch. I don't want to discuss if that's good or bad, the fact is there and that's not Cahill, Luiz, Cech, Ramires, Mata or Torres that can argue properly with the referee. There's many ways to be a leader, at the moment I obviously agree with the fact that he could be an even better leader. But right now, at the moment, with the starting lineup he's the leader on the pitch ; he's the playmaker and the most vocal player.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is when I really miss the old Bison (or Maka for that matter). I don't think there is a defensive midfielder in the world at the moment who is on that level.

I really like Mikel, he's a fantastic lad and a very important player for us but I've got the feeling he will never reach the bar set by Makelele and Essien.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@SeB, absolutely fantastic article!

You know I often criticize you for trying to make your opinion and assumptions look like actual facts, but what you wrote about Fellaini is top class.

Did you made the charts yourself?

Congrats!

P.S: You just made me ashamed of writing an article about Neymar or Falcao, I will start right after the holidays...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...