David Moyes decided to give Marouane Fellaini his first start in a few months following an extended break on the sidelines due to injury and he didn’t disappoint.
Despite being out of the team for months, Fellaini slotted right back into United’s midfield and put in a performance that was almost better than his whole first half of the season.
Fellaini won 100% of his tackles, made 4 interceptions and completed 92% of his 71 passes
For those who wanted Fellaini to become a box-to-box midfielder for United, that is precisely what Fellaini did against Crystal Palace. His tackling was well-timed, passing was precise and his interceptions were accurate but it was one characteristic that really stood out – Fellaini’s determination to drive forward with the ball at his feet. Fellaini has had a lot of abuse hurled at him this season but deserves credit where it is due.
That’s what our midfield has been missing – someone to truly close the spaces between our attackers because this year, they seem slightly cramped and Rooney was chuffed to see that sort of performance from him.
Rooney said: “I thought he did really well He’s a good player and different to anything we’ve got. He’s big and strong in the middle of the park and can get up and down the pitch. He did really well against Palace, especially with it being his first start in a while. I’m delighted for him.”
It was a sentiment that Moyes agreed with and he pointed towards more appearances in quick succession for the Belgian to keep crushing off the cobwebs.
He added: “I’m pleased with how he played. He did well. He’s come in and given us something different which we hoped he would. He made a chance for himself and should have scored, but it was only his first game for nearly three months, so he needs a bit of time to settle. Everyone needs that at times.”
United face Olympiacos on Tuesday and Fellaini may well play this game as well given that Moyes took him off to rest his legs against Crystal Palace. If he can continue with the level of performance he showed against Palace, then he’d go at least some way to show that he warranted his price tag.