When Marouane Fellaini was named as a starter for Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final against Everton, it provoked a mixed response. Everton fans didn’t know whether to fume or cry and Manchester United fans were just gutted to see the much maligned Belgian starting once again.
However, when he poked in the first goal of the match, it was no less than United deserved. The Red Devils had dominated Everton for the whole of the first half and the sorry Everton performance is symbolic of a club who are looking more Aston Villa than Leicester City. Two of England’s biggest clubs, Villa and Everton, have had terrifically bad seasons and the Toffee faithful have just about had enough of the current regime. Of course, an ex-Toffee scoring the first goal of the game was just rubbing additional salt in the wound that is so very fresh after their drubbing at the hands of Liverpool in midweek.
If any player was to return to haunt his former club at Wembley, it was most likely to be the exceptional Wayne Rooney, it is almost made more hurtful that Fellaini was the man poaching in the box. Fellaini has become a figure of fun, a villain and a liability – at times – since his move to Manchester United and he has still managed to provide the most hurtful of stings on his former club.
Where Manchester United fans feared Tom Cleverley proving the difference, Everton fans are at the lowest of ebbs in a season they must be desperate to end. For all the talent on the books at Goodison Park, they are at risk of being eliminated from the FA Cup by, not only a former player, but a man who would not even compete with the class of Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu or Kevin Mirallas.
Fellaini is a villain to every Premier League club, but there is no player in world football that Everton fans would’ve liked to see celebrating today less.