Marouane Fellaini is in a rare category when it comes to football. The curly haired Belgian is disliked at United, with supporters deeming him 'not a Manchester United player', due to his limited approach to the game. The 30-year-old has however, been a useful player under Mourinho's United and his last gasp header against Arsenal on Sunday proved that however maligned his appearance is in the United midfield may be, he could still have a place at Old Trafford.
Fellaini today proclaimed to Sport/Voetball Magazine that it was United's error not to offer him a contract extension last year and that the club are desperate to keep him on:
Last year I went to the coach and I said that I wanted a new contract. I then had a second meeting, but I will not ask it 10 times.
Afterwards I became important for the team. And a good player costs at least 50m Euros. The club knows that they went wrong there.
The entire staff is doing everything they can to make me stay.
Now I am in a strong position, especially since Mourinho has stated that he wants to keep me.
United fans have reacted negatively to Fellaini's stance turning on the midfielder who has at times kept Paul Pogba out of the starting eleven:
If I am Man Utd, there is absolutely no way I am offering Fellaini what he wants with those quotes. Like genuinely, them quotes stink to high heaven
— Scripto (@AliquamScripto) May 2, 2018
Marouane Fellaini can get the fuck out of Manchester United if he thinks he can hold them to ransom. pic.twitter.com/zNXRPzctqv
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) May 2, 2018
Time for Fellaini to go, it really is... bad enough we even want him to stay in the first place but now with those comments he made today, time for the club to move him on.
Fred, Fabinho, Jorginho, Savic, Vidal etc would all offer more anyway so let the tree leave #MUFC ??
— John Gorman (@ormo5000) May 2, 2018
Granted Fellaini's quotes might not be the most diplomatic, but the ill feeling towards the midfielder hints more at how much the fans value his input to the squad rather than simply being miffed at a player being coy about a contract. As a United fan on Reddit eloquently put it of Fellaini's contribution; "thanks for the clutch moments but it's time to move on," and this I would venture, is how the majority of supporters would feel about the 30-year-old.
Fellaini does have qualities of course, he is energetic, aggressive, physically dominant, all traits that Mourinho values. However, ill discipline, poor touch and lack of vision are also some of the deficiencies he has shown during his career and are the sticks that people have used to beat the former Everton mid.
The main problem with Fellaini is that he is indicative of a side of the game that a lot of fans do not appreciate, especially at a club as big as Manchester United. Needle, loyalty (to managers' tactics at least), ability to hold the ball up and his prowess at set pieces, both defending and attacking, make him a valued member of the United squad. He is a Mourinho player and perhaps is one of the truest symbols of Mourinho's philosophy at United: effective, workmanlike, but not always beautiful. Fellaini isn't a key player in an elegantly balanced orchestra, he is a lump hammer that you need when you just can't knock down that wall and whether that is a good or bad thing really depends on your stance i.e. whether you are José Mourinho or not.
But with the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool wowing the Premier League with their fluent attack, Fellaini is a reminder to United fans that Mourinho is more of a pragmatist than an idealist. Fellaini's contribution may be for the most part crude & simplistic, but it has been for Mourinho at least, necessary, and as long as the Portugese is still at the helm United fans can look forward to some more 'clutch moments' from the big Belgian.