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Mourinho Deserves Massive Credit For Transforming The Perception Of Marouane Fellaini

Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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I will hold my hand up; when Marouane Fellaini conceded a last-minute penalty against Everton in December of last year - after one of the stupidest challenges I have ever witnessed on Idrissa Gueye - I thought his Manchester United career was over.

One week later, when the Belgian was sent out to warm up near the conclusion of a 1-0 win at home to Tottenham, I was sure it was over.

Fellaini was booed by a noticeable section of the Old Trafford fans because the penalty that cost them a crucial two-points the week before was seen as one mistake too many.

He had never properly fit-in since his arrival from Everton, not helped by the fact that he was the 'poster boy' for the failure of David Moyes' time in charge of the club as the only signing in the first 'post-Fergie' transfer window. Although he did enjoy a very strong run of performances towards the end of Louis Van Gaal's first season in charge, he was still considered a liability for his indiscipline, and it was only getting worse.

A number of high-profile elbows that were analysed by the likes of Sky and BT Sport in detail painted Fellaini as an oaf with a malicious streak anytime somebody got too close, and it was getting more and more difficult to argue with that idea.

The penalty at Goodison Park looked very much like breaking point. United badly needed that result and had put in a fantastic defensive performance as they looked to hold on to a 1-0 lead, but Fellaini emerged from the bench and ruined it all in an instant. The boos that followed the next week absolutely shattered his confidence, and the with the media linking him to clubs all over Europe, it looked like the end of the road.

But Jose Mourinho didn't see it that way. After the win over Spurs, he said the following:


I want to dedicate this victory to Fellaini because he deserves it.

In the last match, it was him that was involved in the loss of two points, and that's why I want to make it clear he is an important player for me.

The fans can do what they want and they have been phenomenal with us. I just have to thank them for everything they are giving us, especially in the period where we are not giving them too much so I am really happy with them.

They have in their mind the mistake that Marouane did at Everton and no more than that. He is a player and a person I like and the person is more important. He will always have my protection and trust.

He didn't have to do that. He went against the fans to protect one of his players publicly, when he could have just said it to Fellaini in private.

Some have claimed that the biggest job the Portuguese has done since arriving at Old Trafford was to successfully navigate Wayne Rooney's departure from the club in a clean and amicable manner, and that's a fair argument, but turning Fellaini from an unwanted hate-figure to someone who has become a cult hero at the club must be right up there too.


Against Crystal Palace on Saturday, you could not recognise this Marouane Fellaini from the one that was so frustrating at this stage last season. He bagged two goals, elbowed no opponents, and had his name belted out by the home fans.

It is a total transformation, and it has come about thanks to the man-management of Mourinho. By standing by him, by showing total faith to his player, he earned the trust of Fellaini who responded by working his ass off to turn things around.

It should be said that those fans who did not boo Fellaini mostly felt awful about the fact that it happened, 'that's not the Man Utd way' and all that, so in the coming weeks and months anything he did well was met with cheers in an attempt to let him know there were some that had his back, and by the end of the season his value was clear to see.


He started the Europa League final, on merit, and was one of the better performers on the night. Mourinho found a role for him, it was clear to see that his confidence had returned as he was playing his best football, the kind that convinced David Moyes to bring him along in the first place.

While he does not get a look in if you were picking Man Utd's best XI, Mourinho has him at second choice in the box-to-box midfield role that Paul Pogba usually occupies, and with the Frenchman out for the 'long-term', Fellaini has proven his value in his stead. A very different player, but also a different threat that causes headaches.

Marcos Rojo is another one who no Man Utd fan wanted to see in the lineup before Mourinho took over and then went on to establish himself as first-choice alongside Eric Bailly last season, but getting the Old Trafford crowd to sing Marouane Fellaini's name, and truly mean it, is a far bigger accomplishment.

Praise must also be given to Marouane Fellaini, of course, but Mourinho's ability to keep every member of his squad happy is remarkable, and when you see the contributions that fringe players are now making to this Man Utd team, it's an exciting time for all involved.

SEE ALSO: Jose Mourinho's Update On Paul Pogba Is Not What Man United Fans Want To Hear


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