Manchester United fans were quick to point out the positive influence brought by Marouane Fellaini during their side’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
Jose Mourinho had just seen his side fall two goals behind, with the brilliant Isco leaving the entire back four flat-footed before sweeping home, and immediately called for the Belgian to get ready.
He came on and altered the game’s entire dynamic, bringing Man United further up the pitch and pestering Madrid’s back four with his direct, physical style.
And supporters, often quick to criticise the 29-year-old, pointed out the positive influence Fellaini brought to the game.
@Fellaini performed strongly tonight despite sustaining injury <3
— anna (@beanshynson) August 8, 2017
The game swung in Manchester United's favour when Marouane Fellaini came on. For all of his critics, you can see why Mourinho likes him.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) August 8, 2017
Fellaini has changed the game and played really well. The football is poor when you lump it to him but he definitely has … Something.
— Alex Shaw (@AlexShawESPN) August 8, 2017
You have to give it to Fellaini though.
Always wears his heart on the sleeve and bleeds for the team.
A true worrier with a class attitude
— Stretford End (@stretford_end) August 8, 2017
— Thomas Sporsheim (@ThomasSporsheim) August 8, 2017
I respect fellaini from today tbh!
— Shreyounsh MUFC (@Shreyounsh01) August 8, 2017
I’ll be honest, when Madrid, for the first 55 minutes, were carving out openings left right and centre, with the unstoppable Isco giving United constant nightmares, it didn’t occur to me for a second that Fellaini’s lumbering figure would do much at all.
But it did. In fact, from the moment he came on United grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Pinning down exactly what change he brought from a tactical sense is hard to do. Perhaps that misses the point. There is just something about his bustling, almost abnormally structured presence that unsettles teams, and it laid the platform for a second half revival that should have seen United take the game to extra time.