Marouane has been the nuts up to now this season. In fact he's been the nuts for the past 3 years. Since the opening game of the season against Manure he's grabbed headlines with goals scored and his Velcro chest. In fact the defining image from an uncharacteristically good start for the Blues would have to be Felly rising through the air to meet an aerial ball with his chest and bringing it effortlessly to his feet; shrugging off inferior players (Joe Allen for example) in the process. Playing in a more advanced position has definitely poured yet more limelight over our prized asset but at what cost? Now I don't want to totally rubbish one of the success stories of our season but I really don't think it's best for all occasions. I have my reasons for this; they are threefold:
First of all is our overall style of play. To put it bluntly we play a lot of long balls to Fellaini when he is further up the pitch. It's not pretty but it has been effective this season. My concern is that it is not effective enough to sacrifice the close, intricate play Evertonians have been getting so used to over the last 10 months. The ball goes long first and if it is brought down by Fellaini the rest of the team have to catch up. When he is in a deeper role, short, simple passes become the ball of choice for everyone in a blue shirt which, as a general rule of football, leads to a better quality of chance in front of goal. The team advance as a unit, allow more bodies to get into attacking positions and break up the shape of an opposition.
The second reason is that Fellaini breaks up play better than any other midfielder currently plying their trade in the Premier league. This side of his game is almost totally lost when playing in a more advanced position and could even be a reason for the goals we've leaked recently that have turned winnable games into draws. Phil Neville has been more cover for the marauding Coleman of late so centrally we have missed the extra barrier of defence that Fellaini can provide.
The third reason and also the reason why we can comfortably adapt back to having Fellaini in a deeper role is Nikica Jelavic. With Fellaini acting as target man, Jelavic is no longer the focal point of our attack and it appears to be adversely affecting his game. He is seeing a lot less of the ball than he is used to and looks rusty when he gets himself in the positions that seemed to always end in a goal last season. I don't think we would lose the goal threat that Fellaini provides by dropping him back again. That threat would simply come in the form of Jelavic instead.
Obviously it is a matter of opinion and this just so happens to be mine. I would rather see us set our stall out with a short game in the majority of matches and in order for us to do this Fellaini has to play deeper. This also has the added benefits of enabling Fellaini to display all aspects of his magnificent game and resets the natural balance of our attack by making Jelavic the spear head. In games against stronger teams and certain away games I do still think deploying Fellaini higher up the pitch can be an effective weapon but it should be the exception rather than the rule.
The form of two other midfielders could dictate where Fellaini finds himself playing for the remainder of the season. If Leon Osman continues to perform at what is now an international standard in a deeper role then maybe Fellaini will find himself in a more attacking role for the foreseeable future. However if Ross Barkley continues to display his goal scoring capabilities in an advanced role for Sheff Wed then Moyes will have no choice but to recall him and place Fellaini back in his natural position. With Gibson to return to the fold also Moyes will soon find himself with the high class problem of which three central midfielders from a possible five (if you include Neville) he starts with. Rocky Balbluer.
Follow Rocky on twitter @johnsimms1878