Throughout his Premier League career, Marouane Fellaini has continually divided opinion, but especially since he left Everton for Manchester United in summer 2013.
Whilst the effectiveness of his towering frame in both boxes is tough to dispute, the Belgium international’s actual ability on the ball leaves much to be desired – and can often make him look out of his depth when placed in the starting XI of English football’s most historically successful side.
Nonetheless, there’s a reason Manchester United’s last three managers have all trusted Fellaini and that was particularly evident last night as the lofty midfielder headed home to net what proved to be the decisive goal in United’s Europa League semi-final win over Celta Vigo.
He has an incredible knack for getting his side over the line in tight-knit, aesthetically modest encounters and rather tellingly, United have lost just one of the 16 games Fellaini has scored in throughout his four terms at Old Trafford. Furthermore, seven of those have been game-winning goals – either the actual winner or the strike that put the scoreline in United’s favour.
But hitting the onion bag was by no means Fellaini’s only contribution in last night’s season-defining clash at Old Trafford. He produced two more efforts at goal, completed 31 passes and won the most aerial duels and second-most fouls of any player on the pitch.
It was a typically awkward and un-pretty Fellaini performance, but one that highlighted exactly why David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have all turned to him throughout difficult periods of their Old Trafford tenures.