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Manchester United drew 3-3 with relegation-battling Newcastle United at Saint James Park as Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard missed sitters in arguably the most entertaining fixture of the Premier League season.
In a match that saw their otherwise standout performer Chris Smalling commit ridiculous gaffes, the Red Devils faithful fixated on the towering Belgian midfielder as a string of poor displays had preceded his showing on Tuesday night.
Thanks to injuries to Bastian Schweinsteiger and life-long servant Michael Carrick, Louis van Gaal started him alongside Morgan Schneiderlin. While the Dutch manager received a lot of stick for his decision, he could have done worse by assigning the holding midfielder role to Ander Herrera.
In a rather wasteful season, he has proved to bring less-credited aerial threat to the plate; however, he failed to play to his strength against the Magpies as his knockdown helped Gini Wijnaldum spark a comeback before he headed straight at Rob Elliot from five yards.
Although headers are more difficult to convert than they appear, he should have scored, given his lack of involvement in the other areas of the Newcastle turf.
The 28-year-old midfielder was found strolling around, not being embroiled in linkups and losing possession at places non-league personnel seldom concede. In addition, his sense of positioning hampered their attack big time, even though he helped out the back four only moderately.
With Bastian Schweinsteiger set to return in time for the Anfield clash on Sunday afternoon, the Red Devils will have the liberty to drop the underachieving Marouane Fellaini to the bench. Some supporters seem to be convinced that Old Trafford is better off without him; however, given his James Milner-like versatility and his willingness to operate as the third-choice holding midfielder when European Championship is just around the corner, his role could be decisive as the season progresses.
Doubts arise whether he would still wear the Manchester United strip next season. With Andreas Pereira coming through the ranks, Turkish Super Lig beckons for Marouane Fellaini.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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