Marouane Fellaini is a divisive figure at Manchester United, amongst the supporters but Jose Mourinho wants him to stay

On Sunday at Old Trafford, with Manchester United drawing 1-1 with Arsenal in the Premier League and heading into injury time, it was Marouane Fellaini who saved United’s blushes to earn a home victory and an important three points with the Old Trafford club officially qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season – the first time they have done so, based on their league position, since the 2014/15 season, in which United finished fourth.

The Belgian midfielder’s contract was due to expire in the summer and despite being offered a new deal late last year, nothing has been signed. Fellaini, despite not being a fan’s favourite, has adapted at the club since he made that deadline day move in the summer of 2013 for £27.5 million. Under David Moyes, he was utilised as a defensive midfielder, which did not work as well as it could have, and under Louis van Gaal he was used as a makeshift striker, at times, with his teammates playing long balls to get the better of their opposition.

Working under Jose Mourinho is where Fellaini has improved, becoming a player the manager favours and one he does not wish to see leave the Theatre of Dreams, speaking about his wish many times over the past few months. Mourinho has relied on Fellaini at times during the past two seasons which has resulted in him stepping up and rising to the challenge, scoring some important goals but also making a few mistakes. Speaking to the official Manchester United website after the victory over Arsenal, Mourinho, speaking about Fellaini, said:

“I believe he will stay. He’s a good player and he can be used in many different circumstances, according to the nature of the game. That’s why we want him to stay and that’s why I believe that he is going to stay.

“The position is we are almost there. But, in football, almost is not enough. I think we are almost there but I can’t celebrate because almost is not enough. I want to see the white paper with the United crest and I Mr Ed Woodward’s signature and Maraoune’s signature on it.”

Mourinho really trusts Fellaini and despite what some think about him, the manager should be trusted. I am not Fellaini’s biggest fan. I despised his signing as we were promised more by the club and David Moyes and we ended up with a panic buy, who over the years has come good, at times. During the years of support, every supporter will have seen a player at the club they did not like but put up with. Those who hate Fellaini will have celebrated his goal yesterday as it meant victory for United.

Obviously, seeing Fellaini start matches is not what we want to see all the time but even those that hate him see the use he has within the team, especially in the final 25-30 minutes of a match in which the opposition may be tired and worn down with Fellaini coming in with his physicality and opening up space, winning headers from set-pieces or crossed and much like he did on Sunday, nod one into the back of the net, despite having his back towards goal in this instance. Who did not love that?

Fellaini himself spoke to Sky Sports after winning the game for his club in which he spoke about the club earning three points, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season and of course, the three remaining games of the Premier League season in which United will be preparing for the Emirates FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley. One thing that was noticed though was the way Fellaini was speaking about United next season, seemingly including himself by the way he spoke. The Belgian said:

“I think it is good for the team. We have the three points, we are sure to participate in the Champions League. We have to continue, we have three games to prepare for the final. Of course, a club like Manchester United have to be in the Champions League. But we have to improve. I think next season is a big season for us. It will be the third year of the manager (at the club) so we have to try to win the league.”

This season, Fellaini has made just 21 appearances for United in all competitions, 15 of those from the bench. He has, however, scored five goals, four of those in the Premier League. His passing has been impressive with 83.8% success and he seems to be better going forward than defending, although he does get stuck in when United need him too, unlike other players who are celebrated for offering less. Fellaini’s ability in the air, his finishing (headers), his defensive contribution and his tackling are strengths but his discipline is a major weakness.

As I stated earlier, there will always be a player, or player’s that supporters do not like. That will be respective to whatever team they support. Some supporters will hate a particular player, some will love that player. Fellaini is not a player I worship but he is one that I respect. Despite the divide with is prevalent amongst the fan base, Fellaini has always given his all for the club, even when making mistakes which have cost United. That is one thing I cannot criticise him about.

Jose Mourinho wants to keep the player, he has made a suggestion that the player will remain at United and Fellaini, whether accidental or not understanding exactly what he was saying, seems to have confirmed be could play a role at the club next season. Mourinho has stated that he will be seeking to rebuild the midfield, replacing Michael Carrick and he may have had to spend more money to replace Fellaini. Perhaps if the Belgian remains at the club, the money could be invested in sorting out one, or both of the fullback positions.

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