In the short spell of games that we’ve seen Everton play in this season’s Premier League, we’ve surely learned one or two key things about the Merseyside club. The first is that they’ve broken the mould in terms of form; in recent years they have started slowly and then kicked on towards the end of the season, whereas they’ve done the opposite this time round and started like a house on fire! Secondly, we’ve learned about how valuable Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini is to the club – starting the season in great form and excelling himself in key games.
With the season barely a month-and-a-half old, the Toffee men find themselves sat in third place in the table with three wins, a draw and one defeat. They’ve confidently swept aside Man United, Swansea City and Aston Villa, and in all games the man with the big afro has been central to everything good about Everton’s general play. In the Man United game, Everton’s first of the season, Fellaini was pushed high upfield in behind striker Nikica Jelavic, a position which he took no time adapting to. The Reds simply couldn’t handle his physical presence – the big Belgian winning almost every header and dominated key areas of the pitch. Indeed, he scored the winner – an absolute bullet header from a corner. He took no time in carrying on this form, netting the following week in a 3-1 win at Villa and again causing a great nuisance. After the international break, the Blues found themselves up against Swansea – a tricky prospect surely. But no, the Swans were next to feel the force of Fellaini – giving the defenders of the Welsh side a torrid afternoon and helping himself to another goal in a 3-0 win.
Such great form has prompted interest from big-name parties; Chelsea and Man United are reported to be keen on Fellaini who, at the age of 24, is still some way from reaching his peak. The fee that’s been banded about is around £20 million which, in today’s market, is relatively cheap but at the same time – a club like Everton, not the largest of coffers, would they struggle to turn down such a fee for a high profile player? Especially when you consider that the man in question might want to go anyway – while on international duty with Belgium a few weeks back, Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported Fellaini as stating that his fifth season with Everton will be his ‘last’. Poor timing for him and his club, considering the great form they’ve been in – it could potentially upset the apple cart.
Fellaini has since back-tracked on his comments, stating: ‘I am happy here, I play for a great club with great players.’ Whichever statement is true or whatever mindset he’s currently in, Everton will be thankful that it’s not affecting his performances on the field. He’s been powerful, forceful and essentially moulded himself into a forward player, supporting one of Jelavic, Kevin Mirallas or Victor Anichebe. Composed on the ball and a beast in the air, teams have found him too hard to contain – all except for West Brom and Leeds United (in the League Cup) who both doubled-up on him to negate the danger and ended up triumphing. Everton may expect more of this as the season progresses.
For now, the Blue side of Liverpool can revel – firstly, in the fact that their illustrious neighbours are languishing in the relegation places and secondly, in that they’ve got a great team with dangerous players – namely the big Belgian – who seem to be clicking perfectly. It would be great for a top manager such as David Moyes (second longest serving in the league no less) if he was to keep hold of his key man in the next window but, unfortunately, such a scenario might just be beyond the realms. A sad sign of the times in the current Premier League climate.
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