Morgan Schneiderlin vs Marouane Fellaini


When Manchester United announced the signing of Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, many United fans believed United had finally signed a quality holding midfielder – a position that was appearing weak in absence of Michael Carrick. Few would have predicted that going into his second season, the midfielder finds himself on the bench and limited to 5 minutes of league football. 

First LVG, and now Jose Mourinho have deemed Morgan Schneiderlin not good enough to hold a starting spot for United. Recently, Michael Owen while commenting on the United team to play Liverpool, assessed that the French midfielder was not quality enough to be a regular starter. I disagree.

Similarly, both managers have seemed to prefer Marouane Fellaini to Schneiderlin. However, more recently, Herrera’s performances have elevated his status in the team, such that he is now considered United’s best holding midfield option. To also crown his efforts, the Spaniard has finally received his first senior international call up. Thumbs up Herrera!!! well deserved.

Going by Owen’s assertions, he opined that Morgan was not good enough to start for United, and Fellaini did not understand the role. Do we take it that Owen is saying Fellaini would be good enough to start for United, if he understood the role? I beg to differ. Fellaini, even with tactical understanding of the position, does not possess the natural qualities or skill set to convincingly hold down the defensive midfield position.

Tackling has never been the Belgian’s strongest suit, and he was lucky to get away with a foul on Nolito in the box against City recently – and subsequently led to United conceding a penalty against Watford. Passing has also not been a hallmark of his game, despite showing marked improvement under Jose this season.

Conversely, when on form, Morgan Schneiderlin is adept at reading the game and breaking up opposition play effortlessly. His passing range and vision are also an asset to any team looking hit quick counter attacks from defense.Why then would anyone assume Fellaini was better suited to the role?

The stats below tell their own story.


From comparison of both players stats, the picture becomes a bit clearer as to why Fellaini is preferred ahead of Morgan in Jose’s reckoning. While the French man excels in his general passing and defensive contribution, Fellaini’s stats suggests he gives more to the team generally.

The Belgian’s shot accuracy and chances created stats better those of Schneiderlin. Not surprising when considered Fellaini spent a considerable amount of game time being deployed further ahead of Morgan’s regular playing position. Fellaini’s ability to win the ball, while questionable, is also superior to the French midfielder’s – going by the stats. It can only be assumed that a fair portion of the duels won by Fellaini were aerial – and  if in and around the opponent’s box, directly resulted in chances being created.

Schneiderlin however stands out where it matters most from a defensive midfield perspective. His average defensive actions per game stats, indicate that while he may not necessarily win as many duels as Marouane, his overall defensive contribution is better – and his defensive prowess has been sorely missed this season.

Time to give him another shot then, Jose.


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