Marouane Fellaini had an excellent 2012/13 season as he moved into a more forward role from his previous defensively minded one.  One would assume that it was his performances from this forward role that made David Moyes want to pay £28.5m to ensure the Belgian followed his path across to Manchester.

 

I wanted to quickly post heatmaps of Fellaini’s attacking touches (pass, shot or take-on) over the last 3 seasons, and in doing so ponder why Man United paid so much money for him yet didn’t play him in the position that largely earned him his reputation.

In all of these heatmaps, the team is attacking the goal to the right

 

2011/12

FellainiAttacking2011

Played pretty defensive and tended towards the left wing, but then most of Everton went down the left wing too.

 

2012/13

FellainiAttacking2012

A notable forward move with his attacking touches, and it was from here that he cause opposition defences a ton of trouble.

 

2013/14

FellainiAttacking2013

So United bought him off the back of a great season, and then played him pretty defensively.  I wonder was that in the plan when Moyes bought him, or did he simply want to bring him across and worry at another time about where he would play?

 

Apart from anything else, this illustrates how heatmaps of attacking or defending touches over a season, or series of games, can help throw some light on the roles that player had in teams.

 

  • http://theonlystat.blogspot.co.uk/ Owain Thomas

    Watching the games I thought Moyes had been playing Fellaini deeper than at Everton. Why you’d want to do that when the attacking option at United were not exactly stellar I have no idea.
    Perhaps he wanted Fellaini to take on Carrick’s holding role, but I’d much rather have Fellaini’s attacking prowess closer to the opposition goal and leave the holding role to someone less talented.
    Just makes very little sense.

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