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Fellaini’s Injury: A Blessing in Disguise

By Nate Kopp :  01/03/2010 :  Comments (26) :
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who choked a little bit when Fellaini went down theatrically after Kyrgiakos showed him his studs (and got stomped nicely for it). It appeared at first that the big Fella was trying to dodge the obvious red card coming his way, and though it usually makes me sick to see grown men rolling around pretending to be weaklings, my only hope was that the ref would buy the act and only give a yellow. Once the red card came out against the not-so-jolly Greek giant, and fair enough based on the replay, my initial relief soon gave way to worry. Fellaini wasn’t acting, after all, and anyone who had watched an Everton game in the preceding month knew instantly that despite Liverpool going down a man, we had actually come out worse from the incident.

Fellaini’s comfort on the ball, his calm tackling and distribution had been directly responsible for the newly-discovered attacking form of the rest of the team. Knowing that they could rely on him to kill opposing offensive moves allowed the rest of Everton’s midfield to adapt to an attack-first mentality and leave the dirty work to Fella. Losing him was a major blow to our chances that day, and though we were a man up for most of the game, I don’t think anyone was too surprised that the team never recovered its attacking impetus. After the fact, everyone could see that losing the best holding midfielder in the Premier League (there, I said it) was too big a mountain to climb, even with the man advantage.

As disappointing as that day was – I felt physically ill into the following morning – Everton probably benefited in the end, counter intuitively. Fellaini’s form had been beyond impressive, and the attention from those outside the Toffee community was growing exponentially. Moyes had come out and waved him around as the best in the country, and Fella’s dad had touted his boy as the next big target for the top four, specifically Chelsea. Bold proclamations all around, but Fella didn’t let anybody down. With each successive game, he got better and better, the team got better as a result, and Everton started playing to a standard that I personally have not seen before (admittedly, too young to know much about the “good old days”). His influence was such that the midfielders continued to play at the pinnacle of their ability even after he was gone, based solely on their newfound comfort in attacking positions. That dipped a bit in the recent showings in Lisbon and against Spurs, but hopefully they still remember how good it feels to press forward and get goals. If they do, they’ll be working from a foundational confidence established with Fellaini.

How, then, does Fellaini’s unavailability help us? If you look beyond this season (and just for the record, I still think we can get something out of these remaining months), what was the realistic projection for Fellaini’s continuing at Everton? Here is a 22-year-old kid with loads of potential. He’s finally proved his worth in the Premier League, been hailed as the Next Big Thing by his manager and publicly tipped for a move to Chelsea by his dad.

If he had continued on his run of good form and stayed healthy until the end of the season, there is a very good chance the money clubs would have come calling in the transfer window. If Chelsea, Arsenal, or somebody else had offered the prospect of doubled wages and regular European action, where would an honest betting man put Fella’s odds for a move? We saw what happened with Lescott last summer, and I know I’m biased, but Fellaini’s combination of size, obvious talent and uninterrupted string of quality performances make him a much more attractive target for the same kind of shadowy unsettling that took Lescott to Manchester City. Put simply, I was not looking forward to transfer season.

The injury buys us at least another year. He falls off the Top 4 Poach-hounds’ collective radar for the rest of this season, and this summer nobody is going to offer Moyes the kind of money necessary to steal him. We need to make the most of this coming year. Add a couple to the squad in the summer, try to keep Pienaar, try to get Donovan back, keep Rodwell and the other youngsters, try to start well enough to give ourselves a realistic push for a top-4 finish and European money. Not an easy juggling act, but the club needs to all of this and more to continue winning and keep the locker room dynamic strong. Make it worth it, in other words, for him to stay and test the possibilities.

In the past, money has been too convincing to keep even home-grown talent of this kind at Everton (Rooney’s infamous “Once a Blue, always a Blue” comes to mind), and Fellaini has only recently acclimated to England, let alone fallen hard for the club. We have a year to make it happen. Say nice things about him. Donate to Belgian charities. If you see a black puff of hair peeking over the aisle while you’re grocery shopping, put down the can of soup and go shake his hand. Maybe slip him some cash while you’re at it.

Reader Comments

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Brian Noble
1   Posted 02/03/2010 at 09:27:13

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Bit daft that, I think. We don’t want our players to play, in case they come to the attention of ’bigger’clubs? Much as we might regret it, another £25M in the kitty would enable Moyes to continue his building process which has already taken 8 years and might well be completed by 2020!

Am I becoming a cynic? You decide!

Conor Ryan
2   Posted 02/03/2010 at 09:50:05

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Nat, I agree with this and I generally agree with your angle on things. I thought you came in for some unfair stick on your last piece too... ’a butterfly... which I also seen the logic behind.

I think you’re my generation of thinking but some of the old schoolers are always going to give you flack for alternative theories. That said I do think Felli will be sold regardless.

Mike Hughes
3   Posted 02/03/2010 at 10:03:36

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I agree with Brian. In fact, I think he is being kind describing your post as "daft". That’s an understatement if ever I’ve seen one. Following your line of argument, perhaps we should all hope and pray that our entire team suffers further injuries so that they never stand-out from the crowd and Everton are forever rooted in mediocrity. Complete crap.
Nick Entwistle
4   Posted 02/03/2010 at 11:39:24

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He’s working on a silver lining theory here Mike... obviously.

But £25m? £10m more than we paid? I’d want £30m and 50% of all wig sales.
Ajay Gopal
5   Posted 02/03/2010 at 12:20:34

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Any idea if the big Fella is going to be ready for the beginning of next season?
Jay Harris
6   Posted 02/03/2010 at 12:50:11

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Don't think it will make an ounce of difference Nate except that we lose his services for the most important run in in recent history.

All the scouts will have made their recommendations and he WILL more than likely be available pre-season.

There’s also the strong possibility that we will have to cash in on a player yet again this summer so he Pienaar and Rodwell look like the pick of the bunch.
Kiern Moran
7   Posted 02/03/2010 at 13:49:40

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I think it's a very good disguise!!!
Steve Guy
8   Posted 02/03/2010 at 14:59:19

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Spurious article. We might still be in the Europa if he’d played v Lisbon and taken points off Spurs. We need our best and in form players actually playing and not filling the treatment room; our squad will never be big enough for the dubious luxury of players being out of the shop window due to injury related issues.
John Crook
9   Posted 02/03/2010 at 15:22:34

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Well let's hope Pienaar Howard Arteta Heitinga Baines and Jagielka all get injured this weekend and are out for 6 months to avoid being available in the summer market!! Silly.
Spragg Johnson
10   Posted 02/03/2010 at 15:58:52

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Convenient I guess that his injury coincided with Rodwell’s return ... but yes, this is a daft view ... Fella was on fire ... and we were winning every game ... PLUS ... I will never forget the pirouette around Bellamy!

Wishing the big fella a speedy recovery.
Peter Warren
11   Posted 02/03/2010 at 16:09:09

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Tend to agree with the post but I am concerned that he will not be ready at start of next season and only comes back at Christmas. Recent injured players have been woefully behind schedule in getting back.
Brendan O'Doherty
12   Posted 02/03/2010 at 22:03:22

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Well I’m Not Kop either but that’s bizarre logic if I’ve ever heard it. Slip Fellaini some cash in the supermarket?
David Chait
13   Posted 03/03/2010 at 02:03:58

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Got to say I was mortified when it was announced he was injured long term... the match that night was almost secondary to me... He is such a huge influence... especially against those tough as nails teams that he bullies around the park...

what would you have given to see our best 11 on the field at the same time for the last 10 games... it would have been a thing of beauty.
Kevin Jones
14   Posted 03/03/2010 at 03:22:33

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Well sorry Nate but I’m with daft comment brigade I’m afraid. We need our best players playing as often as possible. Players can still be sold when injured, Downing went to Villa last season with Martin O’Neil knowing he was going to miss the first few months.
Ciarán McGlone
15   Posted 03/03/2010 at 04:15:55

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Ridiculous post....about our ’central’ midfielder...
Adam Fenlon
16   Posted 03/03/2010 at 04:39:06

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I’m sure there would have been a comment that getting beaten in Lisbon was a blessing in disguise as we can concentrate on the league. Also, I look forward to the next article that Donovan missing a sitter on the weekend was also a blessing in disguise as the MLS won't want him back! The mind boggles!
Aiden Doyle
17   Posted 03/03/2010 at 05:21:44

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For me, the only blessing is that the injury is only likely to affect this season — unlike the injuries to Arteta, Jagielka and, arguably, Yakubu, which significantly reduced our chances of success for both this season and last.
Matthew Mackey
18   Posted 03/03/2010 at 04:55:12

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I suppose your post here re-opens the question:– are Everton just a "feeder" club for those higher up the food chain or are we good enough to stand on our own two feet and fight for our right to be at the top table?

I get frustrated that everytime we at Everton unearth a gem (Rooney, Rodwell, Fallaini etc) the expectation is that they will leave because we can’t satisfy their ambition.
In simple terms:– What’s the point in trying to build a beautiful house if someone is digging away at the foundation at the same time. (Over to you, DM/BK)
Stewart Littler
19   Posted 03/03/2010 at 06:14:43

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Have I missed something? Have we been selling our ’best’ players every season or something? Cos all I remember is us getting a combined £55m for 2 players that cost a combined £5m. Both have helped us to strengthen the squad overall, IMO (though open to debate re Lescott). If Fellaini were to be sold, based on what’s gone in the past, I would expect £35m as a minimum.

Peter — woefully behind schedule? Have you ever done your ACL, cos believe me, there is no such thing as a schedule with major injuries like that, only a guideline date. Weren’t Yakubu & Neville both back early-ish — or did you choose to ignore the injuries which did return on time or ahead of schedule. I was out for 2 years with my ACL, so I don’t think 10 months is all too bad actually.
Gavin Ramejkis
20   Posted 03/03/2010 at 06:57:37

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Nate, not sure where you get your ideas from but tend to be in the dodgy logic circuit arena.

Ajay, from what I can find out myself and was suported in another thread, as long as the recovery goes to plan Fellaini should be up and about ready to play again in June/July, no guarantees about complications or setbacks though.
Damian Scott
21   Posted 03/03/2010 at 09:12:48

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We need our best players playing at all times when possible... end of story. Worrying about our players playing well and bigger money clubs coming in for them will get us nowhere...
Martin Clark
22   Posted 03/03/2010 at 19:14:15

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Will we ever get to field our strongest possible team!!!

Just get Arteta back Felli out! Was looking forward to seeing what Moyles would do and who he’d pick, particularly in midfield.
Peanut, Arteta, Cahil, Fellaini, and Donavan would be interesting to see. But you’d still have a selection on the bench of Rodwell, Osman, Billy and Gosling.

Would love to just have a season with our best team playing the majority of the matches just to see where were at, as we’ve shown we can beat the best but can we be consistent??
Mat Fearon
23   Posted 04/03/2010 at 07:33:13

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Absolute nonsense. We always wants our best players to be fit and playing - end of story.
Keith Glazzard
24   Posted 04/03/2010 at 17:28:43

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Sorry Nate -

Arteta out meant that we saw Pienaar, and to some extent, Osman, step up. But that might have happened with Mikel there. We will never know.

Maroane Fellaini was playing in the EPL very successfuly the role he had played in Belgium - a very good league, but not quite the multinational PL we all know and love. I believe he was cynically taken out by an RS no-mark expendable player, a typical Benitez huge squad mercenary.

Moyes, and the EFC finances can be criticised for many things, but his ’vision’ of the Big Fella at the heart of his defence-into-attack 5 man midfield seems obvious to me.

Fatty worked that out too. The Greek hit man did the rest.
Keith Glazzard
25   Posted 04/03/2010 at 17:44:08

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Sorry Marouane - no paso basta muchos vocales en una paralabra normalmente. Frances es un poco dificil. Esperan, todos los Evertonistas, qu tu restas aqui con nuestras.

All this for a typo?

I love the guy.
Berry McWilliam
26   Posted 05/03/2010 at 01:00:00

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Nate I tend to agree, if he had kept up that form for the rest of a season then he would have most certainly been bought, this way, provided he is fit at the start of season, we get a whole season worth of him in top form fingers crossed wirht the reintroduction of other key players to the squad. Has the makings of a big season should we get some luck with injuries.

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