When Marouane Fellaini suffered an injury for Belgium in their World Cup Qualifier against Bosnia & Herzegovina, Manchester United fans feared the worst. All of a sudden, the idea of the 29-year-old midfielder missing a significant portion of the season was hard to stomach.
That Fellaini’s potential absence from a United side joint-top of the league with 21 goals from seven games will be so keenly felt just goes to show his current importance to the team. It’s quite a turnaround for the player who was booed by his own fans last season.
Fellaini always faced an uphill to get into the United faithful’s good books. Signed for close to £30m on transfer deadline day 2013, he epitomised everything about the unsuccessful David Moyes era. The fans saw him as one of Moyes’ boys, a player who represented the manager’s bland style of football.
“Fellaini, Everton FC” (CC BY 2.0) by nicksarebi
His first season at United was largely unsuccessful. Fellaini made just 16 Premier League appearances, failing to score any goals and mustering only one assist. You would be forgiven for thinking that he wouldn’t last much longer than Moyes did.
Fast forward four years and Fellaini is still at the club, cementing his status as a loyal warrior for Jose Mourinho, the current Manchester United manager. He’s not only proved himself as a valuable squad member; when Paul Pogba fell to a hamstring injury, Fellaini was the one who has stepped up in his place.
Playing in the number eight role usually occupied by Pogba, The Belgian scored twice from his only two shots, won four tackles, completed 90% of his passes and put in a Man of the Match display against Crystal Palace.
Fellaini is slowly becoming the go-to guy for United. With a player once deemed almost surplus to requirements now relied upon by Mourino; it’s no surprise to see Manchester United at 11/4 to win the league outright with football betting outlet bet365.
So far this season, the box-to-box midfielder has featured in six out of seven games, starting three of those. He already has three goals to his name, a pass completion rate above 85%, and averages 1.8 tackles per game.
But it’s not just Fellaini’s stats that are so impressive; he’s the perfect foil in a Mourinho team that relies on power, pace, and commitment to the cause. He is the prototype of a Mourinho player – and his skill set is currently bearing fruit for United.
At the start of the season, many wondered whether he was the fifth choice midfielder behind Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick. In his current form, you wonder just how easily Pogba will walk back into the United line-up.
It seems that the injury he picked up for Belgium isn’t as bad as first thought, and he’s only likely to miss two weeks. Even so, with some big games coming up for United, the Old Trafford faithful will wish for his speedy recovery.
Cheers have replaced the boos, and Fellaini is finally showing his worth to Manchester United.