Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini has seen his stock rise in epic fashion this season, having gone from the fans’ favourite whipping boy to straight-up fan favourite.
Brought to Old Trafford in 2013 by then United boss David Moyes, Fellaini’s £27.5 million transfer raised eyebrows and immediately cast him under the searing spotlight of expectation at the storied club.
The seasons that followed under Moyes and then Louis Van Gaal saw Fellaini struggle to live up to his price tag, where flashes of brilliance were overshadowed by a general sense of mediocrity.
When Jose Mourinho took over from Van Gaal ahead of the 2016/17 season, Fellaini was retained in the squad, despite much suggestion among fans that he should be shown the door along with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay.
Mourinho, however, stuck with Fellaini and afforded him plenty of opportunities to prove himself, ultimately making 47 appearances for United in the Portuguese manager’s first season in charge.
Despite his efforts, the 29-year-old managed a mere four goals. To make things worse for the sometimes ungainly star, he picked up 11 yellow cards and one red last term.
All the while, Mourinho supported the Belgian, speaking highly of him and insisting he was a part of his plans for the future.
Now, with the new season well underway and with United once again at the summit of the Premier League table after seven matches, it appears that the manager’s faith in Fellaini has finally begun to pay dividends.
Having been made a scapegoat for much of last season, justifiably so more often than not, this term has seen a new Marouane Fellaini.
Partnering Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic in the heart of United’s midfield, suddenly the towering Belgian with the big hair can do no wrong.
Already this term he has scored four times and, what’s more, he has also bagged two Man of the Match awards in the Premier League.
With Pogba out injured, Fellaini has become increasingly important alongside the in-form Matic and together they have become a dominant supply line to the likes of Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial up front.
Such has been his form this term, Mourinho has called on United bosses to secure his long-term services with a bumper new deal.
For fans, the change in fortunes of the favourite whipping boy has left them somewhat bemused, where they have had to change their tune from one of derision to one of admiration.
After four seasons and three managers, Fellaini has seemingly weathered the storm and come out the far side as a key piece in Mourinho’s plans for Premier League glory.
While some fans continue to hold onto their assertions that the Belgian is still a ‘donkey’, the tide has turned. The boos are gone and instead, his name is chanted in the stand with affection and admiration.
It has taken a few years but under Mourinho, Maraoune Fellaini has finally come good.