Unmissable Belgium international Marouane Fellaini finally got off the mark for Manchester United at West Brom, a mere two-and-a-half minutes after being introduced by gaffer Louis van Gaal with the visitors 1-0 down at the Hawthorns.
The former Everton man couldn’t manage a goal in 21 all-competition appearances during his first term at United, but now Van Gaal has found a way to utilise the lanky midfielder, 17/20 odds offered by bwin about Fellaini grabbing over 4.5 top-flight strikes this season hold plenty of appeal.
Prior to the interval, the ‘Iron Tulip’ was clearly seen identifying aerial weaknesses in the Baggies’ backline that none of United’s starting line-up were able to attack, with 6ft1in centre-half Phil Jones rating the biggest danger in the first 45.
Fellaini, who has three inches on Jones, used sheer physicality to beat Baggies defender Joleon Lescott to Angel Di Maria’s cross, before finishing past Boaz Myhill with a rasping shot into the top right-hand corner.
United tried the tactic countless time afterwards, with Fellaini thwarted on a number of occasions by countryman Sebastien Pocognoli, the left-back West Brom picked up from Hannover over the summer.
However, the stats from his last season at Goodison Park, when played in a more advanced role by former Toffees and Red Devils gaffer David Moyes, suggests few will be able to hold Fellaini back if he gets into his stride.
The 26-year-old reached five top-flight strikes by the start of November in that campaign, going on to claim six more Premier League efforts and one in the FA Cup, plus another for Everton early last season in the Capital One Cup before swapping Merseyside for the Theatre of Dreams.
The likes of West Brom will continue to try and counter the threat of Di Maria, who pumped cross after cross into the Baggies’ box to no avail in the first half, with little space on the wings for the Argentine wizard to attack.
In such circumstances, Van Gaal, who admitted after the 2-2 draw that the physical aspect of the Premier League is something he still must adapt to, will need his biggest aerial threat up front, so expect to see plenty of Fellaini’s trademark Afro as the campaign draws on.