Marouane Fellaini is not a Manchester United player and Jose Mourinho’s decision to start him against Sevilla backfired
Marouane Fellaini is not a Manchester United player and Jose Mourinho’s decision to start him against Sevilla backfired - America News

Marouane Fellaini is not a Manchester United player and Jose Mourinho’s decision to start him against Sevilla backfired

credit: thesun.co.uk
  • 3 month ago

ON a night when Manchester United’s European future was at stake they called on a character from Disneyland.

On the morning of the game Marouane Fellaini was pictured in a photoshoot with his hair done up like Mickey Mouse.

 Marouane Fellaini had his locks sculpted into two buns for a magazine shoot
 The Belgian international failed to impress against Sevilla in the Champions League

Last night he was being asked not to Donald Duck it up.

The big Belgian midfielder’s inclusion was a big call from Jose Mourinho — but it just did not work.

Fellaini can at least argue United were still in the tie at 0-0 before he was hooked on the hour.

He had not started a game since November 22 — a Champions League group defeat by Basel. Since then he has played just 75 minutes of football and the 20 of those we saw on Saturday — when he was asked to shore things up against Liverpool — did not fill you with confidence.

 The former Everton midfielder hadn't started a match since mid-November
Manchester United fans boo as Jose Mourinho’s team exit the Champions League at the hands of Sevilla
 Manchester United fans have called for Jose Mourinho to be sacked

Still he got the nod last night ahead of Scott McTominay, who had been given a big build up before this game for his displays against Liverpool and Chelsea, Juan Mata and fit-again Paul Pogba.

But Mourinho saw something in Fellaini that could make a difference last night.

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As he had done in the game that got United back into this position — the Europa League final last May.

That night in Solna, Sweden, they negated Ajax’s high-pressing, passing game in the final third by simply banging it over the top to the Belgian and the ball stuck.

Indeed, ex-United boss Louis van Gaal held great store by what Fellaini could do for him in a similar role.

So whenever his name appears on the teamsheet there is not a high expectation of free-flowing football.

Unlike Sevilla, who played well in spells last night, not least for their well-worked 74th-minute opener, tucked away by Wissam Ben Yedder.

You cannot blame it on Fellaini, but he is simply not a Manchester United player.

Not at the level they need to get back to where they want to be. There will not be many tears shed if, as looks likely, he sees out his contract and leaves this summer.

The picture of him looking like Mickey Mouse was featured in GQ magazine, where he also argued that he should not be portrayed as just an aggressive player.

“I always want to improve,” he added.

 Fellaini was replaced by Paul Pogba at Old Trafford, who was as equally disappointing
 The Red Devils suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Sevilla as they crashed out of the Champions League

Well it is fair to say there have not been giant strides during his 4½ years at United.

One thing you have to credit him for, however, is a determination to try and prove people wrong and show his worth.

Nobody gave him much hope of reaching a milestone of 150 appearances for the club — as he did on Saturday after that ill-fated ten months under David Moyes.

The problem for him is that 56 of those have been from the bench.

This was only his fifth start of the season, to go with 14 from the bench, although he was sidelined for a month with a knee problem.

Mourinho had said: “We think Marouane has the qualities that are important in how we want to start the game.”

Well it was right from the kick-off that the ball was launched in his direction for a head on.

 Ben Yedder came off the bench to shock Man United and secure victory for the La Liga club

That seemed to be the idea. Playing in the middle of a 4-1-4-1 he was the man to nod it on for Marcus Rashford to burst down the left or Romelu Lukaku through the middle.

He wasn’t winning enough and when he lost possession in the 22nd minute there were loud groans.

But as the first half dragged on it was Fellaini who had the best chance. His physicality won possession and after a quick one-two with Alexis Sanchez his shot stung Sergio Rico’s hands. He was there again with a shot charged down by Ever Banega.

Sevilla were looking the better side and Old Trafford was nervy.

When Fellaini went off, it actually got worse. Whatever Pogba was asked to do did not tip the balance.

Ben Yedder doubled Sevilla’s lead before Lukaku pounced late on.

Fellaini was just a spectator by then. It’s a role he is used to and one many fans had hoped he would have been from the start.

Sevilla fans march around Manchester on successful Champions League visit to Old Trafford