FanZoner Craig Malpas explains why the signing of Marouane Fellaini could be key in Manchester United's quest for a 21st Premier League title.
The final days of the transfer window resembled something you'd have expected to have seen on ITV show Take Me Out. Paddy McGuiness belted out 'single man, reveal yourself' and the desperate looking David Moyes and Ed Woodward came down the LoveLift to the tune of I'm Sexy and I know it. Unfortunately, after stepping out of the lift with a suitcase full of cash, most of Europe's top midfielders turned their lights off.
The show went on and, progressively, Daniele De Rossi, Cesc Fabregas, Sami Khedira, Thiago Alcantara and Ander Herrera all turned their lights off. Some explained they weren't for sale. Some looked confused when Moyes explained he was the manager of Man Utd. One wanted to date their ex at Bayern Munich, and Ander Herrera would have gone on a date, but couldn't get his gladrags on in time!
At one point, there was on-set controversy when Moyes and Woodward didn't notice Mesut Ozil had his light on until he'd taken a phone call from Arsene Wenger and walked off set. And then finally, one gigantic, afro-clad, Belgian unit decided that he wanted to be romanced at Old Trafford!
At first glance, the signing of Marouane Fellaini felt terribly underwhelming as I discussed in my FanZone blog last week
But in the days since the transfer window closed, I've began to reflect on the strength of the squad already at Old Trafford and the acquisition of one of the Premier League's most talented midfielders.
At the beginning of August, I was coaxed in to attending Man City's launch party (Miles Kane and Jason Manford both did a set) and I have to say, I was a little queasy as superstar after superstar came out to be paraded to the often tortured City faithful. A brimming squad lined up on stage, and then came Jesus Navas, then Fernandinho, then Alvaro Negredo and then Señor Pellegrini emerged. And then they blasted Newcastle in the opening game.
I have to admit to a sense of dread engulfing me as City lifted off and I was temporarily brainwashed into wanting a new exotic import. Anyone would do, as long as they flew here, played abroad and sounded good. Even if they were described as the new so and so or if they used to be a beast on Football Manager!! Even drafting in Bebe and re-signing Kleberson may have quenched my thirst.
But alas, over at Old Trafford we snaffled a new number 31 from fellow Premier League club Everton. A player who has been the scourge of United more than once in recent seasons and a player, who when you look at his stats, is up there with the Premier League's best. A combative presence as everyone likes to point out. A player who, although you wouldn't describe as world class defensively or offensively, can do everything extremely well.
This is a player who scored as many Premier League goals as Carlos Tevez last season. More than the likes of Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. He assisted more goals than David Silva, Mikel Arteta and Antonio Valencia. By scoring 11 goals and assisting six in 31 Premier League starts, he had a direct hand in more goals than Olivier Giroud, Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure and Oscar. All this from a player who opposition fans have relished mocking United fans about.
In a volatile market which has seen Torres bought for the price of a small country, Gareth Bale valued higher than Ronaldo and bought with copious amounts of banks' bailout cash and even Stewart Downing's left foot be bought for £20million (still makes me chuckle that one), surely the fee commanded for Fellaini reflects reasonable value? Doesn't it?
The reception to Fellaini's signing has reminded me of the time eyebrows were raised when Chelsea bought a 23-year-old midfielder from a fellow Premier League club in 2001. Or when United bought a 25-year-old midfielder from Tottenham in 2006.
On Tuesday night, these two eyebrow raisers will most likely feature in Ukraine. One, Frank Lampard, will become an England centurion and is probably the most consistent Premier League midfielder this century. The other, Michael Carrick, has turned out to be the lynchpin in a United midfield made respectable in recent seasons only by his presence.
There are always players on the continent who look so good on YouTube that they'd get in to every team on the planet. Players who you expect would come to the Premier League and take it by storm. And then, there are players making waves at smaller clubs who, when given the chance by a title challenging side, are criticised without having played a game.
Fellaini, the 25-year-old signed from Everton, not only has the potential to be go on to become a centurion for his country, he also has the potential to become on of the most consistently devastating Premier League players and a lynchpin in United's team. Not bad for a fifth-choice transfer target!
Fellaini thinks we can defend our title, and on reflection, so do I. I'm glad he kept his light on and that Moyes splurged on a top-class Premier League operator.
Our new number 31 could just be key in the quest for that record breaking 21st title.