Victor Lindelof has hailed the ‘very important’ role Marouane Fellaini has at Manchester United following the Belgian’s injury time winner against Arsenal on Sunday.
The midfielder has been restricted to just three starts since September due to injury and is expected to leave Old Trafford once his contract expires in June.
But his towering header, which came following a five minute period of aerial bombardment, served to remind supporters of just what Fellaini – who pointed to the badge after scoring – can offer this Man United team.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, Lindelof explained how the threat of Fellaini towards the end of the game was crucial.
“He’s a strong player and is very important for us, especially at the end of the game when we have a lot of the ball and we attack,” he said.
“He gives us some more options, he can go into the box and he’s very dangerous in there, so he’s a very important player for us.”
Mourinho has always admired and wanted to use Fellaini’s warrior-like spirit, but he has more pertinently cherished the uniqueness of his attacking threat.
For a manager who will never adopt the zip and zeal with which Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp’s teams play, the presence of a player whose style is so unorthodox – so awkward for opponents, so physically invasive – is vital for a man who prefers situational pragmatism, judging games in the moment, over an overarching plan.
And in a game that for the most part felt like an exhibition match, drifting inexorably towards a mundane draw, Mourinho used the 30-year-old to devastating effect, combining the slick wing play of Anthony Martial and crosses from Ashley Young with Fellaini’s boisterous presence in the box.
It changed the mood of the game, forced Arsenal into desperation, and ultimately dealt them a heavy blow in Fergie time.