In Depth

Fellaini sums up Man United's problems under Jose Mourinho

Belgian midfielder gifts Everton a draw – but could Henrikh Mkhitaryan be Old Trafford's saviour?

It's not only Jose Mourinho's tax affairs under scrutiny, his tactical nous is also in the spotlight after Manchester United threw away three points against Everton on Sunday.

The architect of United's downfall was Marouane Fellaini, who was sent on as a late substitute to replace Henrikh Mkhitaryan and shore up United's defence as they fought to maintain their one-goal advantage at Goodison Park.

In the event, Fellaini's main contribution was to bring down Idrissa Gueye in the box and give away a penalty, allowing Everton to claim a draw.

Both incident and the player at the heart of it were symptomatic of United's travails in recent seasons."Marouane Fellaini embodies everything that Manchester United do not," says Henry Winter of The Times.

"He lacks pace and poise, technique and adventure. Recruited by David Moyes, the ungainly Belgian will for ever be associated with a bleak period in United's great history."

United now sit sixth in the table with 21 points from 14 games, one fewer than Moyes managed. Since the start of last season, Mourinho has taken charge of 30 Premier League matches - 16 with Chelsea and 14 with United - and has won only nine of them, for a return of 36 points. His win ratio over that period stands at 30 per cent.

"His first 196 English league games, all as Chelsea boss, yielded 136 wins - a 69 per cent return of success," says the BBC.

"Mourinho's aura is well and truly gone after a woeful end to his Chelsea regime, and a shaky start to his Manchester United one."

Nick Miller of The Guardian writes: "The troubling thing about Jose Mourinho in the past 18 months or so is that new weaknesses keep emerging in his teams. His apparent ability to get players to do anything for him went west, as did defensive solidity, and now there is apparently a lack of mental fortitude."

Mourinho, though, could learn something from his substitution. Bringing on Fellaini "did little more than add weight to the conviction that no Manchester United side worthy of the traditions of the club should feature the Belgian", says Jim White of the Daily Telegraph.

"The pattern of 1-1 draws is becoming wearily familiar... [and] there was little sign of the fluidity Mourinho has been searching for."

However, the player who Fellaini replaced could turn out to be Mourinho's saviour.

"The one plus was the performance of Henrikh Mkhitaryan," says White. "It wasn't eye-stopping, it wasn't match-winning, but there was enough there to suggest that, given the trust and responsibility, he might just be the key to unlock this side."

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