Marouane Fellaini did not receive a huge welcome like Paul Pogba, and neither was his an anticipated move like Ibrahimovic’s. He joined the club under David Moyes, and that was not the best of times at Old Trafford. Maybe it was the situation that was more at fault, than Fellaini himself. To give him fair credit, he did try his best to fit in, but there’s only so much a new signing can do at a club that was struggling to establish its own identity in a post-Ferguson era.
Three years laster, Fellaini is still at the club. He went through it all – and survived. Now, under new manager Jose Mourinho, he still starts games. More importantly, he still looks like he is ready to put up a tough fight to prove exactly why he belongs here. Perhaps that’s what has improved him as a player so much – the fact that he has had to fight so hard to earn his corner, that the competitiveness has awakened a new player in him.
Fellaini played a crucial role during their win over Southampton at Old Trafford, in which he fit perfectly as the defensive midfielder and built a good partnership with Pogba.
His transformation could also be attributed to Jose Mourinho. Several reports mention how the manager was firm on retaining Fellaini, and even instilled confidence in him. When a manager takes on a club, he would first look to get rid of all the unnecessary players, and the fact that he did not fit into that list, seemed to uplift his spirits a lot, despite so much criticism over the last season. Now, however, Fellaini is preferred over Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera, and nobody can say that he doesn’t deserve it.
The season has just started, but the with huge names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba in the club now, Fellaini has made his own place at the club. He is there to do what he does best – break up the play, fill the spaces left by Pogba and play with aggression whenever required.
Fellaini’s efforts need to be appreciated because – irrespective of whether he goes on to improve further, or his performance declines this season – not everybody can stick around in a club and fight for their place when the going gets tough (Does Angel di Maria ring a bell?).
They say that every team needs a provocateur, but Fellaini’s antics were frowned upon by fans last season. For example, the Europa League round of 16 second-leg tie against Liverpool, like as many matches that Fellaini played in last season, it coincided with one of United’s terrible performances, and Fellaini looked like a liability.
He wasn’t particularly loved by the fans, and he wasn’t doing well for himself either. He could’ve easily packed his bags and called it a day. However, he didn’t and he stuck around. The fact that he still held on to his dream for playing at Manchester United, is truly something to admire, and is inspiring.
He has not been in the league of great players, so he will know that second chances are not easy to come by, and when an opportunity like this comes up, it might possibly never come again. Christian Benteke recently gave up on trying to make it work at Liverpool, and plays for Crystal Palace now, and its highly likely that he would never receive a chance like that again.
Fellaini walked into Old Trafford with a dream and he hasn’t given up on it. If he continues the way he is playing, he will definitely fall into the category of one of United’s finer players. He still has two years left on his contract. Two years is a long time ahead, but maybe he will make the cut and sign a new one.