Fellaini: We’ve worked hard and have the motivation to win

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has shown the winning mentality for his club this season despite not being a fans favourite. The Belgian midfielder scored the goal which put United through to the UEFA Europa League final on Thursday evening, a header assisted by Marcus Rashford. Rashford himself scored the away goal the previous week in Spain, meaning the pair effectively put United into the final and at the end of the match, it did not matter that Celta Vigo scored an equalising goal on the night, United winning 2-1 on aggregate. Fellaini has stated that he himself strives to win, which is a similar mentality shown by some of his teammates. The Belgian midfielder will miss the Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday through suspension, the final match to be played at White Hart Lane before it is demolished for the big rebuild in the summer. He will be available for the final two league matches away to Southampton and at home to Crystal Palace. Fellaini spoke to MUTV, reported by the official Manchester United website about the ‘exciting night’, saying:

“You play football to win things. You wake up every morning and go training to work on that goal. If we win it will be an amazing moment but there is still a lot of work to do.

“All the players want to do it. We’ve worked hard to get to the final and we have the motivation to win it. It’s a big trophy that the club have never won.”

The comments from the burly Belgian suggest that despite the reputation he has amongst some sections of the club’s supporters, he still wants to win things, which at the end of the day is the right mentality to have. Yes, he has cost United at stages this season, but so have other players. Fellaini may not have been the Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas or even the Kevin Strootman United supporters may have wanted back in the summer fo 2013, but he was the player United signed. Both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho stuck by the signing made by David Moyes, with him playing a huge part of United’s history post-Sir Alex Ferguson. Fellaini has scored some crucial goals, also adding much-needed physicality to the midfield, which was more than just his elbows, something United did need as the midfield became a walkover post-Ferguson, and at times whilst he was managing the club. Fellaini was asked about his important goal at Old Trafford on Thursday evening, to which he added:

“Yes, it was an important goal because we are going to the final. I think all the players, the staff, the supporters and the club as a whole deserve that.

“The crowd were amazing and they push us in every game. We have played 14 games in the Europa League which is a lot but we are in the final now and we will do everything to win it.”

Ajax stands in United’s way at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden on Wednesday 24th May 2017. The Dutch side are a young side who have plenty of fast-paced and attacking players, which had been shown in their semi-final first leg when they humiliated Lyon 4-1, losing 3-1 in the second leg, which put them 5-4 up on aggregate and into the final against United. Fellaini knows a lot about the side United face which will decide their European competition next season. On winning the EFL Cup back in February, a place in the UEFA Europa League is already theirs, but it is the UEFA Champions League that United need and want to play in. Lifting the trophy in Sweden in a week and a half will be United’s main aim, also booking a place in the elite European competition next season, saving a cut in their adidas deal, which will also see United’s players not have their wages cut, the ones that remain at the club after the summer, at least. When asked about Ajax, Fellaini responded:

“Ajax are a big club with a lot of history and a lot of talented players have played there. At this moment they have young, talented players with energy.

“We watched the first leg of Ajax against Lyon and they ran everywhere. It will be tough but we are experienced players. I think the experience is always important. We have a good mix which is good for us and we know how to play against them. Let’s see what happens on 24 May.”

The season end cannot come quick enough for United, who will want to fast-forward through their last three Premier League matches as they cannot push themselves into the top four, now in sixth place with more than a miracle needed to better that, looking at the teams they are up against. Tottenham Hotspur will play their final match at White Hart Lane, much like West Ham United playing their last game at Upton Park last season, they will want to end their history at the stadium with a win. United then travel to Southampton on Wednesday evening, their game in hand over the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and the like, with the Saints in good form recently, beating the already relegated Middlesbrough 2-1 on Saturday. On Sunday week, United are back at Old Trafford for their final match of the season, with Crystal Palace their opposition. If Palace cannot beat Hull City on Sunday afternoon, the match could be a big one for the London club, who could face relegation themselves, despite being four points clear of the relegation zone at this present time.

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