Marouane Fellaini, when David Moyes signed up the big Belgian in September 2013, the then Manchester United boss, made the fatal error of telling us what was really on his mind rather than honouring the new-signing convention of praise and optimism. Since his days at Goodison Park he has been a menacing figure on the field against any opposition whether by his physical play, his magnetic chest control or his flying elbows. He was an empirical figure of David Moyes‘ Everton and was one his most fearsome warriors.
In 2013/14 season when he moved to Old Trafford in £28m move he wasn’t taken in with open hands by Manchester United faithfuls and rather Moyes’ sanity was in question.
When LVG took the charge of United after a dismal season under Moyes it looked as if the big Fella will be the first one to leave the Old Trafford, but he slowly grew his stature in the team and was a constant figure of the Dutchman’s team. But, with LVG’s tedious “philosophy” Felliani became the scapegoat among United fans, he was booed and bruised with abuses by the Old Trafford faithfuls. Even his name on the team-sheet used to cause the stir among fans, all this affected his game too and he looked like losing his confidence and his place.
With the announcement of Mourinho as Manchester United’s new boss, Fellaini was transfer listed by the United fans and was a certain departure for them.
BUT, Fellaini is still there. He’s still starting games. He still looks ready for an argument with anyone who might question his right to be at Old Trafford. And maybe that is the point about Fellaini – he has grown so accustomed to fighting his corner that it has come to define him as a player at United.
José has been defensive about him and also stated that he “needs to be loved” by the United fans as he started him in all 3 competitive games United has played this season and his performance have solidified his place in the United’s first team even more.
Of course, Mourinho has long been wedded to the notion of the giant midfielder who can break up play and rough up the opponents. He once described with disbelief the decision at Chelsea to let Nemanja Matic leave on the basis that as a manager, he would never acquiesce to the departure of a “left-footed, 1.95m tall midfield player”.
Fellaini who became the poster boy of the atrocious seasons post Sir Alex era has always risen when criticized and maybe it’s time United fans and footballing critics needs to show some respect for the Belgian who looks way ahead in the pecking order among Carrick, Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin in the new Pogba era.
As United marauded over Southampton and Bournemouth, the headlines belonged to Zlatan and Pogba and hardly anyone took time to appreciate Fellaini’s amazing defensive display, this is what happens to players like him, they only get the limelight when things are falling apart and are forgotten when things start to happen.